The Sixth Mass Extinction of Fauna and Flora is Imminent, Duke University Study Reveals

by , 06/20/14

A new study has revealed that extinction rates for plants and animals are currently 1,000 times higher than they were before humans arrived. The rate is so high, in fact, that the planet hasn’t seen anything like it since the dinosaurs were wiped out in a mass extinction event 65 million years ago. If we don’t take measures to address the situation, the lead scientist for the project, biologist Stuart Pimm of Duke University, says that we are heading for a sixth mass extinction.

The study was published in the journal Science by a team of seven scientists. It focuses on the annual rate of extinctions per one million species rather than the number of species lost each year. This allows scientist to compare extinction rates from different periods in the earth’s history with the aid of fossil records and DNA evidence.

Related: New Visual Shows How Screwed We Really Are When it Comes to Climate Change

Revisiting a report that Dr Pimm worked on in 1995, the team discovered new data which showed that past figures were incorrect and the prehuman extinction rate was actually only 0.1 species per million per year, not one per year as previously believed. Currently, the extinction rate is between 100 and 1,000 species per million per year. The team points the finger at climate change, habitat destruction, invasive species and overfishing as the primary causes of such an elevated rate.

Knowing the causes gives us hope, claims Pimm. With the aid of modern technology and as an interim measure, we can identify and monitor at-risk species and work to protect them, either through habitat protection, modifying our behavior in cases of overharvesting, and working on captive breeding programs. These won’t halt the larger issue of climate change though, and without action on that front, we may just end up joining the queue for mass extinction along with everything else.

Via Reuters and The Daily Mail

Photos by Schristia and Lucy Rickards via Flickr

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  1. Laura Palmer June 20, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    That\\\’s a very insensitive thing to say. We are a major reason why this is happening and is our responsibly to help fix it. We need to take into account we need a lot of these animals and plants to keep our ecosystem. At the end of the road, we as humans will utilimately destroy our own existence, after we kill everything else. Do we really want to do that? Thankfully there are people in this world that do take responsibly for being human and that people can make this world a better place. So you might not care, but what does that say about you as an individual? Selfish would be my word of choice.

  2. Joshturnpike June 20, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    The real question is why should we care?

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