Fears grow of “sixth mass extinction”

Fears grow of “sixth mass extinction”
Scientists have found evidence that the disappearance of wildlife is occurring at a rapidly accelerating rate – renewing fears of a human-prompted “sixth mass extinction” that will endanger our survival. When researchers looked at 29,400 terrestrial vertebrate species for which population data is available, they found that of 543 extinctions that occurred since 1901, 173 took place between 2001 and 2014. Moreover, the extinction rate seems likely to increase further, as 515 species are classed as critically endangered, with populations of under 1,000. Examples include the Sumatran rhino (fewer than 100) and the Hainan gibbon (around 30). The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, warns that the accelerated loss of biodiversity will lead to the collapse of entire ecosystems – and so threaten human existence. “When humanity exterminates other creatures, it is sawing off the limb on which it is sitting, destroying working parts of our own lifesupport system,” said Prof Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University, of the research team.
 

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