how fast are we losing species?

Amphibians, mammals, plants, fish – none are immune to going the way of the dinosaurs, courtesy of the human impact on natural ecosystems. Mass global extincion already occurred in the past history of planet Earth, at least 5 times already, due to natural causes. But what it’s going on right now with the current rate of human exploitation and, more in general, human activity? Scientists say that we already are engaged in a seemingly inexorable march toward barren landscapes and empty seas, a procession fueled by human population growth, resource consumption and climate change. Life on Earth is hurtling towards extinction levels comparable to those following the dinosaur-erasing asteroid impact of 65 million years ago, propelled forward by human activities, say scientists.

These findings have been just published on the prestigious journal Nature. Authors announced that if current extinction rates continue unabated, and vulnerable species disappear, Earth could lose three-quarters of its species as soon as three centuries from now. But they also add that even if things are clearly going extinct too fast today there is still a good news: “we still have most of what we want to save”.

Anthony D. Barnosky, Nicholas Matzke, Susumu Tomiya, Guinevere O. U. Wogan, Brian Swartz, Tiago B. Quental, Charles Marshall, Jenny L. McGuire, Emily L. Lindsey, Kaitlin C. Maguire, Ben Mersey & Elizabeth A. Ferrer1. 2011. Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived? Nature 471:51-57. doi:10.1038/nature09678

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