Study: New extinction phase under way, humans likely primary casualties

By Editor


As biodiversity loses out to a host of man-made interferences, human beings stand among the first species that face extinction.

Science Advances journal has carried a study report which cites causes for such an event as climate change, pollution and deforestation. The study was led by the universities of Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley.

According to the report, Earth has entered a new period of extinction which portends a dramatic decay of biodiversity.

Vertebrates, the animals with backbones, are disappearing 114 times faster than normal as Earth enters “the sixth great mass extinction event”. About 65 million years ago, dinosaurs were wiped out in a similar event that was probably caused by a large meteor hitting planet.

Last year Duke University had published a report with similar projections.

“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” BBC has quoted Gerardo Ceballos, the lead author of the report.

As part of the study, the scientists analyzed historic rates of extinction for vertebrates based on fossil records.

They found that the current rate of extinction was more than 100 times that from past periods when Earth was not going through a mass extinction event.

The Earth has lost more than 400 vertebrate species since 1900, which matches rates of extinction normally seen over a period of up to 10,000 years, the scientists say.

The destruction of ecosystems, the report says, could bring about the disappearance of benefits such as pollination by bees within three human generations.

Unlike the extinction of dinosaurs, though, extinction may be more gradual this time round, the report says.

The authors of the report add that it was possible to avoid the “dramatic decay of biodiversity” through intensive conservation with immediate effect.

Clean energy technologies should obviously play a key role in restoring the balance.

Ajith Kumar S

[email protected]

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