The Sixth Extinction

The Sixth Extinction

2003, Environment  -   32 Comments
Ratings: 8.06/10 from 115 users.

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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32 Comments / User Reviews

  1. bob

    i agree, but in the same time this extinction will be the most funny of all of them

    1. Narynbek

      Vice versa. It would be, arguably, the saddest of all of them. But even which of them is, at least, a little bit funny? Correct, none of them. The word 'funny' is generally not appropriate for the word 'extinction'. Except, maybe, for an insane person. Or you wrote in ANOTHER SENSE? Either this, which is, it seems to me, impossible, but I STRONGLY HOPE that it is. Or you are, I am sorry to say, negatively abnormal or, maybe, even inhuman, and in that case I recommend you to question your view represented by your comment.

  2. Ruralan

    It is tragic, what people consume, NOT as food but as MISINFORMATION. Well yes the quality of the food many consume is very poor also. Possibly why they are such poor thinkers. If I recall that was a Rockefeller goal of sorts.

    If the amount of cattle has replaced the once plentiful bison in the usa, did these wonderful pseudo-scientists who ultra inflate the flatulence and impact it has, calculate that impact of the plentiful bison? No.

    Much of the problem we face is arrogance of the indoctrinated. Its not what you don't know, its what you are convinced of that isn't so. --R.Reagan. They don't want to know. Actual facts wouldn't serve their agenda.

    It can be tough these days on certain subjects with such limited information easily available. However, you can find that people have problems eating certain foods. Some more than others. If we are all built the same, how can that be?

    That would give credence to an old book (unusually thick dictionary or an encyclopedia) which showed different stomach shapes/types. The medical brain trust would have you believe that all our guts (stomach and intestine) are shaped and designed the same, even though some different races come from very different environments with very different food intake... and gee they look different on the outside. Are we supposed to believe that there isn't any difference at all on their insides?

    A number of the commenters are wrongly convinced that we all should eat what some propagandist, doctor or not, told them. Should a remote Eskimo be eating what the South American corn growers eat? Should the corn growers even be eating corn? Their cattle certainly shouldn't. Their stomachs are not designed for it, even though they have four stomachs or sections and re-chew their food in the process.

    The only relief some people have from the epidemic of diabetes2 is a zero carb diet, for example: Meat, some butter, and some cream. Others solve it via a zero meat diet. How can that be with the same symptoms requiring opposite solution? I have read books written by Medical Doctors who think they have "found the cure" one or the other having these opposite approaches. May I suggest that the commercially produced meat and produce, many people in the western countries eat, is garbage, and the innards of people are different, some being able to tolerate the produce garbage more than the meat garbage and vice versa.

    It is always a blessing (joke) when the learned city dwellers decide they know best for all. The non-indoctrinated non-city dwellers who don't need them nor their silly emotional notions unfortunately don't have a large enough voting block to prevent the city dwellers from causing harm to all. What bad thing hasn't stemmed from cities? Those ever expanding wildlife and habitat destruction zones producing an over abundance of crime and crazies who inhale propaganda like it was their favorite food. If you truly cared about the planet, you would ban cities.

    One may wonder how long it is before a heart felt city dweller gets skewered by a monkey eating pygmy for traveling to the jungle and instructing them not to eat meat?

    It would seem before the days of the European Invasion, nature provided the natives of the usa with plentiful bison to eat. Deer and elk for those in the coastal areas. It is the city dwellers who have caused the river of waste; own it, rather than pointing fingers at others. If all you city types contracted with decent conscientious farmers, who would remain to do things wrong? Oh my, way too much trouble to make a few mouse clicks and phone calls. Much easier to point fingers and pretend you are good for doing so.

    1. David

      The theory of positive disintegration (TPD) by Kazimierz Dąbrowski is a theory of personality development.

      Unlike some other theories of development such as Erikson's stages of psychosocial development, it is not assumed that even a majority of people progress through all levels. TPD is not a theory of stages, and levels do not correlate with age.

      Unlike mainstream psychology, Dąbrowski's theoretical framework views psychological tension and anxiety as necessary for growth. These "disintegrative" processes are therefore seen as "positive", whereas people who fail to go through positive disintegration may remain for their entire lives in a state of "primary integration", lacking true individuality. Advancing into disintegration and into the higher levels of development is predicated on having developmental potential, including overexcitabilities, above-average reactions to stimuli.

  3. Jack

    Oh, so thanks to satellites you can see how much the ozone layer has grown and how much of the forest has been lost? Yeah it's great to see that you have taken that information in and have utilised it to reverse the damage that you have caused, wait you haven't and you better start doing so we have even a bit of a chance to stop/halt the end of the end of our species or worse the planet!

  4. John

    So what do you keyboard warriors suggest? Should we forcibly sterilize people or perhaps become eugenicists? Oh I know maybe we should just start WWIII, that'll take care of the problem. Malthus was wrong in his predictions and so are y'all. If we really cared about population control then it would behoove each and every country to enact free market reforms which would speed up industrialization in the third world and create a better standard of living that would then translate to low birth rates, as always happens after the modernization of a country. And if this doesn't happen in time, then the Earth itself will solve the problem as it always has. Then no one has to meet their maker with blood on their hands from the billions of innocents they helped to destroy.

    1. Tom Pain

      The speeding up of industrialization has resulted in the irreversible climate collapse that has begun. Time for some fresh ideas.

  5. Chaz

    Hey guys my names chaz and i think that the world will blow up in 3000 because of gay people

  6. John

    Chemtrails started in the 90's.

    Wake up.

  7. Lauren

    Sustainability could be addressed far more easily if more people adopted a plant based diet. Why is this not being discussed more in relation to the wider topics?

    Animal agriculture and exploitation are a leading cause of ozone and ocean depletion. Why can't industry leaders and politicians make this connection and take the necessary steps toward our next evolutionary step?

    1. Tom Pain

      You are correct. Thanks for an educated perspective. Industry leaders and politicians cannot make this connection solely because of their short term profit motives. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something”, wrote Upton Sinclair, “when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

  8. LULU

    Talking about reproducing, why do people think they HAVE to. I decided very early not to reproduce. No child will be hurt in the making of this life.

  9. bigboi

    Don't fret people. Enjoy your life now as you have about 10 or 20 years of good times before things get really nasty (according to a recent interview with James Lovelock) Enjoy your children, wonder at the folly, breathe every moment as the best of times, rejoice at the force of our species! One way of looking at this situation we're all in as we are transforming (Teraforming) the planet for a new and better version of another aggressive and dominant species. So what that we won't be able to leave anything lasting behind that will definitively point to humans so we get our'thank-you' and pat on the back to show that if it wasn't for us this new species never would have taken hold. It doesn't matte that we won't know what species is next in line to stand on the winners pedestal that we so enjoyed for our brief time here. Perhaps even, the acid oceans and methane sky is exactly what the species who will take our place is waiting in the wings for and will need to prosper.

    Look at it as if we as a species are birthing the next intelligent life for our planet. After all, shouldn't this very extinction we find ourselves in, as the documentary mentions at the beginning, be considered a normal part of the so called process of 'Natural Selection?' Is it not amazing the mystery of this turmoil that God has seen fit to make our generation a part of? Does it make it any difference that dinosaurs couldn't contemplate their extinction and we can? Would the dinosaurs have complained about the stupidity of asteroids and their own inability to do anything about their own inevitable dinosaur decline? And look at what the result was of the last great extinction. A wonderful explosion of new life and species and yes, even we humans, in all our splendor and travail, came to be and have now had our chance for a kick at the can. So I say, since we are not able, or smart enough, to play the long game, like say bacteria and sharks, that is probably what is so tragic about this peril we find ourselves is that the winners of the big game of life are the species that are able to play for the very, very long term.

    Had we as a species been able to mature enough in time, before we developed such destructive technologies, and learned how to stop conflict and conspicuous consumption and live an enlightened life, that truly would've been profound and a mark of our superiority as a successful species. But it is not to be. So we are therefore the losers when it comes to the long term game, and of a species ability to exist on this planet for an extended period. I'm going to be 100 years old in 2063 and can't wait to see all the wonders that will appear in the next 49 years as everything gets scrambled and we head breakneck speed toward our own catastrophe. At least give yourself the kindness and love that you in fact are cognizant and have knowledge of what is the cause of our downfall and understand that you are no dumb beast being led to a slaughter. As I write this I am listening to Miserere Allegri and beholding the beauty and wonder of our species. I live a simple life and try not to consume too much, if only to give myself a false sense that my low consumption practice will somehow make a difference. But we are long past that now, I fear. We had a chance to change back in the 1880's, maybe.

    Don't forget, by 1880 we already had massive amounts of deforestation in Europe and Asia and North Africa for shipbuilding, pastures for domesticated animals and horses, burning of wood for heat, and at least 800 years of empires trading, consuming, making war, smelting iron for weapons, etc. since the time of the Byzantine empire. That alone probably had an effect on our climate during that time and leading up to the 1800s, as according to very early records, some glaciers in Greenland had already started retreating by the 1880s 1890s. So I say, we are not going through a 6th extinction, but rather are creating, through natural selection, the conditions for the next dominant and intelligent species to thrive on this planet.

  10. Nixga

    Just keep on chopping down trees to raise livestock that ruin the soil, the waterways and the air so folk can eat meat !! Oh and lets not forget about scouring every inch of ocean for fish can't let them get away.... Stupid stupid humans think they own the planet. Grow a god dam vegetable and eat that. You can start saving the planet TODAY by stop eating animals .

    1. Jasmine North


  11. Tleigh

    I have watched many docs on Top Docs and alway read the comments before I decide which to watch. I have never made a comment myself before on anything I have watched but I absolutely had to comment today.

    My comment is this....
    Kathleen you are my hero. In ALL the comments I have ever read yours is absolutely the best. You are spot on. Hit the nail RIGHT on the head. Unfortunately it's not an easy sell and people are too bloody selfish and stupid to do what is easy and necessary.

    Population control also has something to do with it but its not like that is something the average person has any control over themselves (making other people have fewer children, especially people in developing nations). What you can do every day, three times a day, people don't want to do it. They'd rather blame people on the other side of the world for the problem. Everyone thinks of changing the world but no one thinks of changing themselves. (Can't remember whose quote that was but it was someone who was on to it).

    We can ALL tread more gently on this earth. All of us.

  12. Kathleen

    What a tragedy that we could change all of these problems in the blink of an eye if human beings would stop consuming domesticated animals & their products NOW! The forests aren't being cut down for firewood or construction but for more land to enslave more animals in the filthiest, most unthinkable manner for painful deaths. The ecological footprint of the meat, poultry, and dairy industry is vastly higher than all the machines run by petrochemicals & electricity of the entire planet combined. Then factor in the tonnage of methane gas excreted by these poor creatures that the majority of humans are addicted to consuming, e.g. every single head (or tail!) of feeder stock produces a whopping 250 liters of methane per day. Want to stop your own extinction? You DO have the choice and the power to do it today. The information about this particular topic is extremely difficult to find and looking for it can get you arrested--Greenpeace won't even talk about it, but Greenpeace receives enormous grants from "agribusiness". But 70% of the planets arable land is used for raising animals for slaughter, and at least 30% of the potable water goes to these same future corpses that end up rotting their way through your alimentary canal producing still more methane gas. Just do some research, please. We can END climate change this week by changing what we eat. Cattle alone produce more greenhouse gasses each day than 16 million HumVees running at full speed for 24 hours. Think about it. Are your tastebuds worth the price of all life on this planet, for that IS the final reckoning of your grocery bill.

  13. 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.

  14. W.Pedro

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

  15. Gigi Bardel

    perfect description greedy and selfish been.

  16. 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!.

  17. Me

    Who cares!?

  18. 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.

    1. Annie Stone

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

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

  19. 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.

    1. 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.

  20. 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.

    1. 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.