Here’s More Proof Earth Is in Its 6th Mass Extinction
(415RaspberryPicket.com In my three book trilogy 415 Raspberry Picket, published in January 2015, I use fantasy to tell a story of an evil entity with a goal to destroy all plant life on Earth. A young boy Darach with his uncle Rubus, housekeeper, Flo, and grandmother Rosemary, who are all witches in a small town in Ohio go on a mission to stop the evil entity. It is my hope my books teach young people how special our world is and plant the seeds of conservation so they make a difference and save our planet. The article below sadly is not fiction but the raw truth of what we as a race are doing to our home. RL Patterson)
Diverse animals across the globe are slipping away and dying as Earth enters its sixth mass extinction, a new study finds.
Over the last century, species of vertebrates are dying out up to 114 times faster than they would have without human activity, said the researchers, who used the most conservative estimates to assess extinction rates. That means the number of species that went extinct in the past 100 years would have taken 11,400 years to go extinct under natural extinction rates, the researchers said.
Much of the extinction is due to human activities that lead to pollution, habitat loss, the introduction of invasive species and increased carbon emissions that drive climate change and ocean acidification, the researchers said.
“Our activities are causing a massive loss of species that has no precedent in the history of humanity and few precedents in the history of life on Earth,” said lead researcher Gerardo Ceballos, a professor of conservation ecology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and a visiting professor at Stanford University.
Ceballos said that, ever since he was a child, he struggled to understand why certain animals went extinct. In the new study, he and his colleagues focused on the extinction rates of vertebrates, which include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes.
First, they needed to establish how many species go extinct naturally over time. They used data from a 2011 study in the journal Nature showing that typically, the world has two extinctions per 10,000 vertebrate species every 100 years. That study based its estimate on fossil and historical records.
Moreover, that background extinction rate, the researchers found, was higher than that found in other studies, which tend to report half that rate, the researchers said.
Then, Ceballos and his colleagues calculated the modern extinction rate. They used data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international organization that tracks threatened and endangered species. The 2014 IUCN Red List gave them the number of extinct and possibly extinct vertebrate species since 1500.
These lists allowed them to calculate two extinction rates: a highly conservative rate based solely on extinct vertebrates, and a conservative rate based on both extinct and possibly extinct vertebrates, the researchers said.
According to the natural background rate, just nine vertebrate species should have gone extinct since 1900, the researchers found. But, using the conservative, modern rate, 468 more vertebrates have gone extinct during that period, including 69 mammal species, 80 bird species, 24 reptile species, 146 amphibian species and 158 fish species, they said.
Each of these lost species played a role in its ecosystem, whether it was at the top or bottom of the food chain.
“Every time we lose a species, we’re eroding the possibilities of Earth to provide us with environmental services,” Ceballos told Live Science.
Researchers typically label an event a mass extinction when more than 5 percent of Earth’s species goes extinct in a short period of time, geologically speaking. Based on the fossil record, researchers know about five mass extinctions, the last of which happened 65 million years ago, when an asteroid wiped out the nonavian dinosaurs.
“[The study] shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event,” study researcher Paul Ehrlich, a professor of population studies in biology at Stanford University, said in a statement.
At this rate, a huge amount of biodiversity will be lost in as little as two to three human lifetimes, Ceballos said. And it can take millions of years for life to recover and repopulate the Earth, he said.
Species make up distinct populations that can spread over a continent. But some vertebrate populations have so few individuals left that they cannot efficiently play their role in the ecosystem, Ceballos said.
For instance, elephant populations are now far and few between. “The same [goes for] lions, cheetah, rhinos, jaguars — you name it,” Ceballos said.
“Basically, focusing on a species is good because those are the units of evolution and ecosystem function, but populations are in even worse shape than species,” he added.
However, there is still time to save wildlife by working with conservationists and creating animal-friendly public policy, he said.
“Avoiding a true sixth mass extinction will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already threatened species, and to alleviate pressures on their populations — notably, habitat loss, over-exploitation for economic gain and climate change,” the researchers wrote in the study, published online today (June 19) in the journal Science Advances.
The study supports other findings on Earth’s high extinction rate, said Clinton Jenkins, a visiting professor at the Institute of Ecological Research in Brazil, who was not involved with the study.
In 2014, Jenkins and his colleagues published a study in the journal Science that came to the same broad conclusions detailed in the new study, but in last year’s study, they also included flowering and cone plants. That study found that current extinction rates are about 1,000 times higher than they would be without human activities.
“This latest study is further evidence of a human-induced mass extinction now underway,” Jenkins told Live Science. “Much like the situation with human-caused climate change, years of research have built an enormous scientific case that humanity is driving a mass extinction. What the world’s many species now need are actions to reverse the problem.”
HOW TO STOP 6TH MASS EXTICTION 6-21-15
This planet has entered a new period of mass extinction and human beings are chiefly to blame, a new study says.
But these same scientists say that there is a path that will avoid a true sixth mass extinction by employing aggressive conservation efforts.
“This will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already threatened species and to alleviate pressures on their populations – notably habitat loss, overexploitation for economic gain, and climate change,” the researchers from the universities of Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley said in a report. But, they note, that this window of opportunity rapidly closing.
The activities precipitating the collapse of many species and ecosystems are related to human population size and growth which increases consumption and economic inequity.
© Paul Goldstein/Exodus/REX Polar bears. According to the researchers, if the currently elevated extinction pace persists, humanity will soon (in as little as three human lifetimes) be deprived of many biodiversity benefits. This means that the Earth’s ecosystem is likely to lose much of its ability to provide important life-support systems, from pollinating crops to cleaning and recirculating air and water
During the past century, industrialization has meant humanity has burned through eons worth of fossilized sunshine, changing the climate for all species. According to the Scientific American, humans use more than half of the planet’s land for cities, logging, or food, eliminating the habitats of other animals and plants.
To prevent the sixth mass extinction, one strategy being considered is moving threatened species of plants and animals into more sustainable environments could help them cope with changing climate, reports the Scientific American.
“Specifically, [biologist Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas at Austin] and an international group of biologists are proposing moving certain carefully selected species, such as the Quino checkerspot butterfly, as their historic habitats change rapidly because of global warming. They aren’t calling for drastic moves, though. “We are not recommending placing rhino herds in Arizona or polar bears in Antarctica,” the group writes, as, for example, the polar bear would then devastate Antarctic penguin and seal populations that have never encountered such a predator. “We are, however, advocating serious consideration of moving populations from areas where species are seriously threatened by climate change to other parts of the same broad biogeographic region,” meaning in nearby locations sharing similar ecosystems….
“A group of naturalists, botanists and ecologists known as the Torreya Guardians has begun to transplant a spindly pine from the Florida panhandle—where Torreya taxifolia has dwindled as a result of disease and, potentially, climate change—to receptive arborists in more northerly climes.”
While the history of introducing new species into new habitats is peppered with mistakes, there have also been successes.
And biologists have found ways to revive threatened species. In recent decades, for example, scientists have brought the black-footed ferret back from just seven individuals to 4,800 new ferrets.
“Our results indicate that populations of the black-footed ferret have the potential to rebound very quickly under favorable conditions, even after persisting at low levels for many years,” says biologist Martin Grenier of the Wyoming Fish and Game Department.”
Scientists in the new extinction study also warn that humans could be among the threatened species because in the aftermath of past mass extinctions, the ecosystem took hundreds of thousands to millions of years to rediversify. “If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” wrote the lead author, Gerardo Ceballos.
This study, follows another recent study published in the journal Science which concluded that the current species extinction rates are 10 to 100 times faster than previous estimates.
This article was written by Beatrice Gitau from Christian Science Monitor and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.