Sixth Phase Of Mass Extinction: Is The Beginning Of The End Here?


What would it be like if we all were just wiped out mysteriously like species’ such as the dinosaurs? Well, news has it that we might have to start considering it a possibility because the Earth has entered its sixth phase of mass extinction. The research that proves this was conducted across three renowned universities in the United States of America, Stanford, Princeton and Berkeley. The findings state that the vertebrates on the planet are disappearing 114 times the normal rate. 65 million years ago one such mass extinction did take place, if one tries to recall the dinosaurs and this extinction remains mostly a mystery to date. The cause centres around many theories, the ones with the most merit being the asteroid that landed in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and volcanic activity which was also dated to have taken place 65 million years.

Our planet has been subjected to a diverse variety of changes in the past 65 million years, climate changes and high levels of pollution along with an alarming rate of deforestation. We, in a way, have dug our own grave and the research only succeeds in putting a stamp on the fact that our worst nightmares might just come true. The lead author of the paper, Gerardo Ceballos, spoke to BBC and said “If it is allowed, life would take many millions of years to recover and our species itself would likely disappear early on”, and there’s nothing that resonates the gravity of the event more. The International Union for Conservation of Nature stated that 41 per cent of all amphibians and as much as 26 per cent of all mammals on the planet are now under the risk of extinction. Research has led to findings of more than 400 vertebrates that have seen extinction since the year 1900 like the Bali Tiger in the 1940s and the Caspian Tiger in the 1970s. About 50 animals inch closer towards extinction every year says the IUCN. Added to this, humans are also at the risk of being swept away by this massive extinction. Therefore, if some of us still believed there was a chance to escape the impending apocalypse, now we can safely say that there’s no way out. Paul Ehlrich from Stanford University commented “There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead”.

Last year, Duke University had put out a similar report that cited the Earth being on the cusp of the sixth mass extinction. The report cited that it might be possible to survive this sad state of affairs if conservation was carried out intensively, efficiently and quickly because as we are now aware, there isn’t much time left. The loss of entire ecosystems would affect us in ways we can’t imagine. Moreover, the Centre of Biological Diversity talked about the “Snowball” Effect which highlights a very pertinent point, wherein the loss of an individual species will cause the extinction of other species’ as well. We and the other species’ on Earth are highly dependent on each other for our existence, and therefore if one species falls many others will soon follow, undoubtedly.

The crisis is that, there are many who are consciously and actively putting in effort to prevent such situations from occurring but the problem is that it is a very small number if one compares it to the actual population of the world. The efforts, though valiant, are still not capable of picking up speed and muscle thanks to human ideologies and indifference that comes in the way. No matter how rapidly the planet deteriorates before our eyes, we continuously refuse to recognize it for the sake of our own comfort. The necessity is glaring at us, this is nothing like studying for an exam. Last minute preparation will not suffice.



Sahitya Poonacha

Image Source: The Viewspaper