The Sixth Extinction

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The Sixth Extinction

Everywhere around the world habitat destruction continues and we don't know what this is going to do because other extinctions have not been like this one. They haven't been wholesale removal of habitats because of the activities of one species. The previous great extinctions have been the result of often external disasters - a meteorite impact, huge desertification - but never before we had one where one species has done for so many others.

The Earth's climate has suffered successive changes which have determined the number and variety of species in each period. The concept of biodiversity specifically refers to the richness of life in a determined time and space. It's a calculation that measures the variety of species, keeping in mind that those species are capable of reproducing among themselves. There is little difference between insects, plants and mammals because every living being counts... and not only because it's alive but because life also depends on it.

The number of species that exist today is unknown. There are about 2 million classified although no one really knows the percentage that this figure represents with respect to the total number of species inhabiting the Earth. Scientists do not agree on approximations because some believe that there are at least 4 million species while others who are more optimistic estimate that there are more than 100 million. Between the two extremes the most accepted figure is around 14 million different living beings.

The predominance and diversity of what is small is not a whim of nature... small creatures correspond to a need. Without insects the machinery of life would not work. They rid the ecosystems of biological remains, they oxygenate the soil and serve as food for hundreds of species of birds, reptiles and mammals. But most of all they're essential for plants whose reproduction depends almost exclusively on the millions of insects that transfer the pollen from one flower to another.

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15 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Paul Gloor

    Once again, too many people is the problem... How long will it take people to get it through their thick skulls that it REALLY is our fault ? As smart as we are, we are really ignorant bastards when it comes to recognizing the scope of our influence on the environment.

  2. Jacek Walker

    Yes, too many greedy and ignorant people is the problem. Ant this self-obsessed crying "Me, me, my family, my kids..!" only explains the cause of overpopulation.
    And as with all other cases of this road to hell, the answer is - grow more in consciousness.

  3. CharmingDude

    Education for women is the key to non-coercive population control. In countries where women have equal opportunity to achieve a high level of education, population growth decreases. In places where education is out of reach to most people (especially women) the birth rate is high.

  4. Sha Tara

    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? How many Earthians (those who call themselves "humans") can this one planet support at today's level of technological support? With increased technological/machine support, how many will the planet be expected to support without raw resource-input from other worlds remaining out of reach of Earthian plundering? Then comes the critical question: how much of the machine support currently served a growing Earthian population will the machine world withdraw from the people in order to maintain and support itself in it own developing future? Who/what will win the conflict of growing demand versus planetary entropy? As things go now, the machine will win because it is not biological and can survive longer in a "dead" environment.

  5. Annie Stone

    I learned at school that the earth can support 9 billion people.

  6. hisxmark

    That may be correct, but if the doubling time of human population is seventy years and we have about seven billion people already, it is evident that the death rate is going to increase dramatically, very soon indeed.

  7. hisxmark

    If the population doubles every seventy years and we have seven billion people already, we don't have time to bring everyone gently into the twenty-first century. There is going to be a "big dying", with lots of species going extinct, and humanity may very well be one of the species that is eliminated.

  8. Me

    Who cares!?

  9. zazen

    9 billion ? that may be, but what then... i seriously doubt that humanity will just automatically stop over-reproducing.. and, what can we do anyway ? nuke half the world ? we really are doomed.. have a nice day.

  10. Guest

    It's over 10 billion people. Scientists believe that there will be 9 billion people on earth by 2050 and between 10 and 11 billion by 2100.
    If scientists made a pill or something that could replace food, then up to 20 billion people could live on our planet.

    Also just to let you know,
    Fluride causes male infertility, causes birth defects and lowers IQ.

    Why do you think they put fluride in water?
    So we can't have loads of children. The more water you drink, the higher the chance of infertility. Also water filters don't work, so it's pointless using them.

  11. aj

    10 billion to 11 billion people could live on earth with just enough food. Says scientists
    And 20 billion could live on earth if food was replaced with something else.

  12. Kate

    I love how we never, ever say the "P" word. We refer to "habitat loss," a symptom, not a cause, but we never, ever talk about population. We add over 80 million people to the planet a year, while our nation--despite media depictions to the contrary, with an EXPLODING population and, many years, among one of 8 fueling HALF OF ALL GROWTH ON THE PLANET--adds a ghastly 2.3 million a year to this the world 3rd most populated nation behind only China and India. And, like them, we are one of the world's 3 highest carbon emitters, part of why one citizen here equals dozens or hundreds in other less developed nations. Population used to be a hot-button issue and was openly acknowledged and discussed among environmentalists, but now we try to ignore it, for political-correctness and other reasons. But we cannot because it is linked, as Al Gore defined, to global warming, and as Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson warned, it is linked directly to species extinction as our mushrooming numbers lead to HABITAT LOSS for other species!.

  13. Gigi Bardel

    perfect description greedy and selfish been.

  14. W.Pedro

    At the critical point of no return we will die due lack of oxygen, simple as that!

  15. Todd Morrow

    This just became relevant again as scientists this week say it's official: We are in the sixth extinction! Not about to be in one, not maybe. It's been triggered and it's well underway.

    Now humanity has to dodge all these bullets somehow:
    1. Nuclear War
    2. Pandemic
    3. Asteroids
    4. Artificial Intelligence
    5. ICE-9 reaction caused by a Particle Accelerator
    6. Global Extinction Event
    7. Peak Oil
    8. Global Warming

    AND my coffee machine has permanent stains on it. Good God.

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