Earth nearing ‘sixth mass extinction’, study finds


A new study has suggested that Earth is currently heading towards its sixth mass extinction of the planet’s biodiversity.

The study builds on previous warnings that our planet’s species are dying at an alarming rate.

There have been five extinction events in Earth’s history; these are events that result in a massive loss of biodiversity due to extreme natural events.

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The study, published in the Biological examinations journal, focusing on marine life as well as birds and mammals. Taking molluscs as an example and, ‘extrapolating boldly’, estimated that ‘since about 1500 AD, possibly as much as 7.5-13% (150,000-260,000) of all ~2 million of known species have already disappeared”.

Robert Cowie, lead author of the University of Hawaii at Manoa study, spoke about the findings and explained how the rate of species extinction was accelerating.

The drastic increase in species extinction rates and the decrease in the abundance of many animal and plant populations is well documented, but some deny that these phenomena amount to mass extinction.

According to the researchers, this crisis is not taken seriously.

The study suggests that people’s current view of the crisis focuses only on the extinction of mammals and birds, which is occurring at a slower rate than the extinction of invertebrates.

The researchers spoke about the bias of the study:

Often they use the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list to support their position, arguing that the rate of species loss does not differ from the background rate. However, the red list is heavily biased: nearly all birds and mammals, but only a tiny fraction of invertebrates, have been assessed against conservation criteria.

Invertebrates include insects, and their extinction seems less likely to attract mainstream attention.

Thus, the numbers evaluated as extinct on the red list are underestimated and inappropriate for estimating true levels of extinction.

The Red List that researchers are currently referring to estimates that around 900 species have gone extinct. However, researchers suggest that the real number is between 150,000 and 260,000 since the year 1500.

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According to the study, terrestrial species, especially island species, are dying at a faster rate than continental species.

While some continue to insist that extinction is just part of the Earth’s natural cycle, the researchers added that it prevents people from taking responsibility.

“To deny the crisis, to accept it and do nothing about it, or to embrace it and manipulate it for the fickle benefit of people, defined no doubt by politicians and business interests, is an abrogation of moral responsibility,” they said. they stated.

Shola Lee

Shola Lee began her career as a journalist while studying for her undergraduate degree at Queen Mary, University of London and Columbia University in New York. She has written for the Columbia Spectator, QM Global Bloggers, CUB Magazine, UniDays and Warner Brothers’ Wizarding World Digital. Recently, Shola took part in the 2021 BAFTA Crew and BBC New Creatives program before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news, trending stories and reporting.


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