NOV 04, 2016 3:39 PM PDT

Wake up call: We are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction


According to the geologic time scale, Earth has already experienced five mass extinctions. The most famous mass extinction came from space, but the biggest might have been because of carbon dioxide. Cataclysms, whether the asteroid that ended the dinosaurs' reign or the volcanism that may have caused the Great Dying, drove the first five mass extinctions in Earth's history, in which 75% of more of the planet's life died out. But what's happening now?

"Anthropocene defaunation," or the sixth mass extinction that's happening to the planet now is because of us - humans. Scientists can't be sure of the current die-off rate, perhaps because much of it is happening to beetles and other insects that are notoriously overlooked. But according to a study in Science, the total number of such invertebrates fell by half over the past 35 years while the human population doubled.

So what do we do about this? There are several methods for going about conservation legislation. The most successful method involves protecting keystone species - those species such as wolves and ochre sea stars that hold together entire ecosystems because of the roles that they play. Conservation programs for these species, which can include protection laws and reintroduction processes, are potentially more important than protection of those cute charismatic megafauna like elephants, tigers, and polar bears. (Although protection of such animals can also be an umbrella protection for many other not-as-cute species like in the case of pandas and certain endangered ferns!)

Sources: Scientific American
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 08, 2020
Neuroscience
Maternal Instinct Overrides Brain's Decision Making
JUL 08, 2020
Maternal Instinct Overrides Brain's Decision Making
Researchers have found that the maternal instinct can override the brain's decision-making regions to prioritize car ...
JUL 08, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Microbots Show Promise for Advancing Single-Cell Tissue Biopsy
JUL 08, 2020
Microbots Show Promise for Advancing Single-Cell Tissue Biopsy
A biopsy is an invasive, interventional procedure that involves extracting a tissue sample for the diagnosis o ...
AUG 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Space Rock May Contain Building Blocks for DNA
AUG 27, 2020
Space Rock May Contain Building Blocks for DNA
Researchers say that a space rock that landed in Costa Rica on April 23rd, 2019, came from an asteroid that exists as a ...
OCT 02, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
A New Way of Building Houses: 3-D Printing with Clay
OCT 02, 2020
A New Way of Building Houses: 3-D Printing with Clay
Our ancestors had a long history of building dwelling structures using clay and plant-based fibrous materials. Even thes ...
NOV 05, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
No, Gravity Doesn't Affect How Bubbles Collapse
NOV 05, 2020
No, Gravity Doesn't Affect How Bubbles Collapse
The ubiquitous presence of bubbles makes them a common phenomenon, but interestingly our understanding of this globular ...
NOV 12, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Can a Chemical Be Both Nurturing and Destructive?
NOV 12, 2020
Can a Chemical Be Both Nurturing and Destructive?
On August 4, a megascale explosion almost leveled half of Beirut, the capital city of Lebanon. At the center of the negl ...
Loading Comments...