NOV 04, 2016 03:39 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
SEP 08, 2018
Videos
SEP 08, 2018
How Stem Cells can Help us Model, Treat and Repair Eye Disorders
Researchers now have straightforward ways to generate stem cells, which have tremendous therapeutic potential, from specialized adult cells....
SEP 26, 2018
Videos
SEP 26, 2018
Cancer Immunotherapy
Video illustration about how tumor cells are sensed and destroyed by the immune system and how tumors evolve and detect immune-mediated eliminations, as well as iimmunotherapies associated....
SEP 27, 2018
Videos
SEP 27, 2018
Why haven't Tesla's solar roofs taken off yet?
In October of 2016, Tesla came out with prototypes of solar roof panels that were meant to revolutionize the way we think about producing energy for our ho...
OCT 02, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 02, 2018
Iridium Anomaly and The Extinction of Dinosaurs
Iridium is a hard, dense, silver-looking transition metal often found in high abundance in meteorites. When the higher-than-usual amount of iridium (around...
OCT 06, 2018
Videos
OCT 06, 2018
Learning More About the Genetics of Depression
Volunteers in the UK are participating in the largest study on the biological causes of depression that has ever been conducted....
OCT 15, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 15, 2018
Picking a Landing Site On Mars is No Easy Task
When space agencies like NASA send landers and rovers to other places in the solar system to explore, one of the most challenging questions they’re c...
Loading Comments...