Could we be at the beginning of the sixth extinction?

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized multinational companies for making the world’s ecosystems a ‘profit toy’ and warned that failing to correct course would be disastrous. So could we be at the beginning of a mass extinction?

Nearly 200 countries came together for the 7-19 December UN Conference on Biological Diversity, which is the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). “With our abysmal appetite for uncontrolled and uneven economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction,” Guterres said at the event’s opening ceremony in Montreal.

The conference aims to adopt the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, which is a global roadmap for the conservation, conservation, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems for the next decade.

One million species are threatened with extinction, one-third of all land is severely degraded and fertile soils are being lost, and pollution and climate change are accelerating the degradation of the oceans.

Experts say we’re losing species much faster than evolution ever created, and some scientists say this could lead us towards a new mass extinction that could include the human race.

Mass extinctions are periods in earth history where the planet rapidly lost three-quarters or more of its species.

Scientists think the world has experienced five mass extinctions so far:

#1 Ordovician – Silurian extinction (450 million years ago)

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It is thought that the Ordovician – Silurian extinction, which is estimated to have occurred at a time between 450 and 440 million years ago, was caused by a great glaciation process. Since most of life was in the sea during the Ordovician, it is thought that the ones whose numbers decreased greatly were creatures such as trilobites, cephalopods and graptolites. In this extinction, 27 percent of animal families, 57 percent of genera, and 60 to 70 percent of all species disappeared.

#2 Late Devonian extinction (380 million years ago)

It is thought that this extinction, which is thought to have occurred as a result of an asteroid impact or a major volcanic event, that ash and dust ejected into the atmosphere greatly reduced the temperatures in the air and especially in the seas where the creatures accustomed to the hot environment live by shielding the sunlight, took place in intermittent pulses and lasted for 20 million years. 19 percent of families, 50 percent of genera and 70 percent of species are thought to have disappeared as a result of the Late Devonian extinction.

#3 Permian – Triassic extinction (250 million years ago)

This extinction, caused by two million years of intense volcanism in Siberia, is known as the most severe extinction event in the world, causing the extinction of 96 percent of species and 70 percent of vertebrate species on land. The extinction is thought to have occurred largely as a result of acid rain, caused by sulfur dioxide gas emanating from volcanoes, collapsing the food chain.

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#4 Triassic – Jurassic extinction (200 million years ago)

Among the theories explaining the cause of this extinction, the most common one attributes the cause of the extinction to the onset of volcanic eruptions in the Mid-Atlantic Magmatic Zone (CAMP). CAMP is geographically the largest known magmatic region and is thought to have released carbon dioxide high enough to trigger severe global warming and ocean acidification.

#5 Cretaceous – Tertiary extinction (65 million years ago)

It is known as the final extinction, which wiped out all dinosaurs except birds, causing mammals to become the dominant species. Although it is commonly thought to be caused by a 20 km diameter asteroid that crashed into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, some paleontologists defend the theory of volcanism.

Could we be at the beginning of the sixth extinction?

Now, scientists say life on Earth is in danger again, with some even saying we may be entering the sixth mass extinction.

No credible scientist is arguing that we are in a crisis about the rate at which nature is being destroyed. But could we really be on our way to losing most of life on earth?

Ecologist at UNAM University in Mexico City, Dr. “We are changing the way of evolution,” says Gerardo Ceballos. “Even if we are not in a mass extinction, what we are doing is risking the system that enables our survival.”

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Extinction rates are difficult to measure because even today we don’t know much about most species or how threatened they might be.

The limited records we have show that we have lost less than one percent of species in the last 500 years, but many scientists believe the true figure may be much higher, because most of the species we know were not described until the mid-1800s.

An ornithologist at Manchester Metropolitan University, who was not involved in the research, Dr. “There’s a huge loss signal here that doesn’t represent current data,” says Alexander Lees.

Wildlife numbers are declining rapidly, although we don’t know exactly how many species have disappeared in recent years.

Global wildlife populations are estimated to have declined by an average of 69 percent in just 50 years.

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