Originally published September 4 2015
Earth now facing sixth mass extinction as Hawaii's "extinction crisis" accelerates
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) Hawaii is known for its amazing biodiversity, but in recent years it has also become known as the "extinction capital of the world." A groundbreaking study has just been published that focused on the ecosystem's invertebrates as well as its bird and mammal populations in an effort to determine just how quickly species are disappearing across the whole spectrum of indigenous fauna.
The results of the research indicated that the loss of species to extinction has been far more serious than previously thought. In fact, Hawaii's wildlife diversity is being decimated so quickly that scientists now believe that we are seeing the beginnings of a "sixth mass extinction" cycle across the globe.
As much as seven percent of the world's animal species may have been lost in recent years, according to researchers.
The Washington Post.com reports:
On Hawaii alone, scores of brightly colored, tropical birds have been crossed off the islands' list of extant fauna over the past two centuries. The same fate came to a number of moths and insects, and as a result, other species relying on those animals are now threatened. One of the islands' plants, the stout Brighamia, known for growing on Hawaiian sea cliffs, now must be pollinated by hand because the insects that would do it naturally are gone.
By including the loss of invertebrates in Hawaii - specifically the land snail species - the scientists were able to gain a better picture of how quickly the planet is losing species to extinction. The loss of land snail species belonging to the Amastridae family could be as high as 14 percent per decade, according to the researchers.
This time, it's our faultMass extinctions have occurred five times so far during the Earth's history. The last one was triggered by the asteroid that hit the Yucatan. This time, however, it's not due to natural forces; it's because of us. That's according to yet another recent study conducted by a different group of researchers.
From The Washington Post.com:
In a study published [June 19, 2015] in the journal Science Advances, biologists found that the Earth is losing mammal species 20 to 100 times the rate of the past. Extinctions are happening so fast, they could rival the event that killed the dinosaurs in as little as 250 years. Given the timing, the unprecedented speed of the losses and decades of research on the effects of pollution, hunting and habitat loss, they assert that human activity is responsible.
The scientists involved in this study say they can "confidently conclude" that extinction rates are now "exceptionally high" compared to the past and that they are on the increase, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is indeed under way.
If the trend continues, they say, "humans will soon (in as little as three human lifetimes) be deprived of many biodiversity benefits."
Consensus among expertsIf you're tempted to believe this is the mere opinion of a small group of alarmist researchers who are exaggerating the dangers, perhaps you should think again.
A number of other respected individuals and groups are saying essentially the same thing.
As far back as 1998, scientists were warning that a mass extinction event was beginning to occur. In that year, a poll conducted by the American Museum of Natural History found that 70 percent of 400 biology experts believed that "the Earth is in the midst of one of its fastest mass extinctions, one that threatens the existence of humans as well as the millions of species we rely on."
In 2003, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson published his book, The Future of Life, in which he calculated that half of the higher life forms now inhabiting the Earth will be gone by 2100 if we continue with the current rate of "human disruption."
There are many other studies and scientific opinions corroborating Wilson's predictions.
It remains to be seen whether or not we will be able to collectively recognize the threat to our planet and our own race and then actually manage to do something about it.
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