Sixth mass extinction event in progress, claims study; blames human activities

The study said that 150,000 to 260,000 species have gone extinct in the last 500 years. The researchers asked the scientific community to unite and work towards preserving the natural balance of the planet.
A new study has warned of new mass extinction event taking place on Earth.(Representative Photo/Twitter/@Space_Station)
A new study has warned of new mass extinction event taking place on Earth.(Representative Photo/Twitter/@Space_Station)
Published on Jan 18, 2022 10:54 AM IST
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By | Written by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Earth is witnessing the sixth mass extinction event, a study has claimed. Led by University of Hawaii, the research blames human activities for the rapid deterioration of the number of species in the planet.

The researchers, however, said that the current extinction is not a new phenomenon and has been going on since the 16th century. They said that Earth has lost 7.5 to 13 per cent of its two million species - 150,000 to 260,000 - since then.

The peer-reviewed study, which has been published in Biological Reviews, countered the views presented by some of the researches who point to the Red List by International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN.

The head of the research, Robert Cowie, said that the Red List is biased, which leaves out most invertebrates - a group that has seen a dramatic loss and is the majority of biodiversity on Earth.

“Incorporating estimates of the true number of invertebrate extinctions leads to the conclusion that the rate vastly exceeds the background rate and that we may indeed be witnessing the start of the Sixth Mass Extinction,” said the study.

It added that island species have suffered far greater rates than continental ones, and plants too have faced similar conservation biases as invertebrates.

The researchers blamed the humans, saying the latest mass extinction event is not a natural phenomenon.

“Humans are the only species able to manipulate the Earth on a grand scale, and they have allowed the current crisis to happen,” said the researchers.

They then called on the scientists to unite and do everything possible to stop the extinction of species. “Denying the crisis, simply accepting it and doing nothing, or even embracing it for the ostensible benefit of humanity, are not appropriate options and pave the way for the Earth to continue on its sad trajectory towards a Sixth Mass Extinction,” said the study.

Billionaire Elon Musk is among those who took notice of the study and replied to a user on Twitter that there is a 100% chance of all species extinction due to expansion of the Sun, “unless humanity makes life multiplanetary”.

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