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Earth's Biological Annihilation: 6th Mass Extinction Underway, Time Short, Warn Scientists

Image: Earth's Biological Annihilation: 6th Mass Extinction Underway, Time Short, Warn Scientists
(REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters)

By    |   Tuesday, 11 Jul 2017 11:40 AM

Earth is facing biological annihilation, with its sixth "mass extinction" already underway, says a trio of scientists who add there is still a short time for humankind to act.

The study was co-written by Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México ecology professor Gerardo Ceballos, along with Stanford University's Paul R. Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo. Their findings are unsetlling, to say the least.

"What is at stake is really the state of humanity," Ceballos told CNN earlier this week.

The study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said "the loss of biological diversity is one of the most severe human-caused global environmental problems."

The study said population sizes among terrestrial vertebrates were rapidly dwindling.

A reported 32 percent of known vertebrates were decreasing in population size and range and, from a sample of 177 mammals detailed, 30 percent or more have lost their geographic ranges, with over 40 percent experiencing severe population declines.

"Our data indicate that beyond global species extinctions, Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization," said the researchers.

"We describe this as a 'biological annihilation' to highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event."

The report highlights the dramatic impact species extinctions had on Earth’s vital ecosystem function.

"In the last few decades, habitat loss, overexploitation, invasive organisms, pollution, toxification, and more recently climate disruption, as well as the interactions among these factors, have led to the catastrophic declines in both the numbers and sizes of populations of both common and rare vertebrate species," said the researchers.

Senior conservation scientist Robin Naidoo of the World Wildlife Fund commented on the study for CBS News.

"A species in decline can cause cascading effects on vegetation and habitat in ecological networks that depend on balance between animals, plants and microorganisms."

The study concluded that Earth was currently experiencing its sixth mass extinction and there was a short window for effective action.

"All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life."

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Earth is facing biological annihilation, with its sixth "mass extinction" already underway, says a trio of scientists who add there is still a short time for humankind to act.
earth, biological, annihilation, mass, extinction
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2017-40-11
Tuesday, 11 Jul 2017 11:40 AM
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