Thursday, 6 April 2006

Largest mass extinction in 65 million years underway

Environmental scientists say they have concrete evidence that the planet is undergoing the "largest mass extinction in 65 million years". Leading environmental scientist Professor Norman Myers says the Earth is experiencing its "Sixth Extinction."

Scientists forecast that up to five million species will be lost this century. "We are well into the opening phase of a mass extinction of species. There are about 10 million species on earth. If we carry on as we are, we could lose half of all those 10 million species," Myers said.

If we do not do more, Myers says, the planet will continue to lose around 50 species per day compared to the natural extinction rate of one species every five years. He projected this rate in the late 1980s to much criticism, but the figure is now widely accepted by scientists. "The whole thing is taking place in what you might call a flickering of an evolutionary eye," said Myers. "It's hard to keep up with unless we damp down on some of the causes of the evolution."

EXTINCT: The Golden Toad of Monteverde, Costa Rica was among the first casualties of amphibian declines. Formerly abundant, it was last seen in 1989.EXTINCT: The Golden Toad of Monteverde, Costa Rica was among the first casualties of amphibian declines. Formerly abundant, it was last seen in 1989.

"The Sixth Extinction"

Scientists are warning that by the end of this century, the planet could lose up to half its species, and that these extinctions will alter not only biological diversity but also the evolutionary processes itself. They state that human activities have brought our planet to the point of biotic crisis.

In 1993, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson estimated that the planet is losing 3

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