The report, led by the universities of Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley, said vertebrates were disappearing at a rate 114 times faster than normal.
“We have the potential for making massive change… and the bottom line is that we cannot be the generation responsible for wiping out three-fourths of life forms on the Earth”, says senior ecological researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and Anthony Barnosky.
The present rate of species loss was compared to the natural rates of species disappearance before Earth was ruled by human beings.
A Stanford University researcher has declared that we are now entering Earth’s dreaded sixth mass extinction. The latest and probably the most famous was the time when the dinosaur’s went extinct 65 million years ago.
By doing this, they brought the current extinction rate and average background as close to one another as possible.
And those are the conservative estimates.
Extinction is a natural part of evolution. Crucially, 198 of these species have been wiped out since 1900.
But these previous studies have faced criticism for relying on those numbers, so Ceballos and his colleagues undertook an extensive review of fossil records to estimate a new background extinction just for vertebrates. Their review found a background rate of 1.8 extinctions per 10,000 species per 100 years (1.8 E/MSY).
The global Union for Conservation of Nature backs up the alarming news, providing a threat level of 26 percent for mammals and 41 percent for amphibians – Elrich calls those who made it into the statistic “the walking dead“.
The researchers also used past extinction rate twice as high as normal estimates. Even though no credible scientists agree, they say their claims are conservative.
They pointed out that since 1900, over 400 more vertebrates than expected had vanished. The extinct species include the dodo (Raphus cucullatus), the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes Migratorius) and the Caribbean Monk Seal (Neomonachus tropicalis). There are many reasons we should care. If species which are extinct or possibly extinct in the wild are added, the number rises to 477 species.
The study published in the journal Science Advances revealed that it’s not because of asteroids, it’s not because of volcanoes, it’s not because of a prophecy, it’s because of humans.
A continued trajectory is “like going into the world’s most famous museum – say the Louvre in Paris – and slashing with a razor blade three out of every four paintings”, Barnosky said. It did not spread as quickly because only some of the species were susceptible, Ceballos said. Evidence shows that the species extinction which is taking place right now is more worrying than how the situation was before human activity was dominant. As Ehlrich puts it, “We are sawing the limb that we are sitting on“.
He said: “Avoiding a true sixth mass extinction will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already threatened species, and to alleviate pressures on their populations – notably habitat loss, over-exploitation for economic gain and climate change”.