Disable Right click

Monday, 29 June 2015

Study identifies 6th mass extinction event, lists human activity as primary cause

After years of warnings from ecologists about the dangers of biodiversity loss, a new study has quantified an ongoing mass extinction event — the sixth in our planet’s history — and suggests humans are largely to blame.

The paper, published June 19 in the journal Science Advances, takes a “conservative” approach to measuring the extent of the situation because previous estimates have been criticized for overestimating the severity of the extinction crisis.

The primary researchers — from institutions such as UC Berkeley, Stanford University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico — compared current extinction rates with a normal baseline rate of two mammal extinctions per 10,000 vertebrate species per 100 years. Based on this measure, about nine vertebrate species should have disappeared from the earth since 1900. But the paper’s “conservative” extinction count stands at 477, which should have taken as many as 10,000 years to occur.

Paul Ehrlich, senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and co-author of the study, notes that the species extinction rate is the highest it has been in 65 million years.

“We’re essentially doing to the planet what the meteor did that took care of the dinosaurs,” he said of the data’s implications.

Seth Finnegan, an assistant professor in UC Berkeley’s integrative biology department who specializes in mass extinction, said the researchers’ study contrasts with other studies that tend to estimate modern extinction rates indirectly. For example, some measure areas of destroyed habitats and then extrapolate extinction predictions based on how many species are believed to exist in those areas.

“This study doesn’t take the inferential approach,” he said. “They are tallying up well-documented, well-observed extinctions of mammals.”

Though extinction can occur because of a variety of environmental factors, the study emphasizes humans’ effect on the alarming rate of species loss. According to Finnegan, industrialization has “drastically accelerated humans’ impact on Earth’s ecosystems.”

Co-author Anthony Barnosky, a campus professor of integrative biology, cited a high per-capita use of fossil fuels and the over-exploitation of ecosystems for economic gain as major contributing factors.

“In one or two human lifetimes, we are the ones wiping out what evolution took millions of years to create,” he said.

In addition to being the driving force behind the sixth mass extinction, humans will ultimately face “high moral and aesthetic costs” in as little as three lifetimes, according to Barnosky. Crucial ecosystem services, such as crop pollination and water purification, will suffer if high rates of extinction persist, the study says.

Considering that it took up to millions of years for the planet to rediversify after the previously recorded mass extinctions, the study says, these consequences would be effectively permanent on human time scales.

Ehrlich said that some conservation efforts could potentially slow the process of mass extinction but said he agrees with the study’s conclusion that “the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”

“Conservation biologists are hard at work trying to stop it,” he said. “But there’s not a hope of changing this in the long run if human populations keep increasing and we maintain a pattern of perpetual growth on a finite planet.”

What’s happening to honey bees?

What happens if all bees die?

Big Five mass extinction events

Although the Cretaceous-Tertiary (or K-T) extinction event is the most well-known because it wiped out the dinosaurs, a series of other mass extinction events has occurred throughout the history of the Earth, some even more devastating than K-T. Mass extinctions are periods in Earth's history when abnormally large numbers of species die out simultaneously or within a limited time frame. The most severe occurred at the end of the Permian period when 96% of all species perished. This, along with K-T, are two of the Big Five mass extinctions, each of which wiped out at least half of all species. Many smaller scale mass extinctions have occurred, indeed the disappearance of many animals and plants at the hands of man in prehistoric, historic and modern times will eventually show up in the fossil record as mass extinctions. Discover more about Earth's major extinction events below.

Ordovician-Silurian mass extinction

The third largest extinction in Earth's history, the Ordovician-Silurian mass extinction had two peak dying times separated by hundreds of thousands of years. During the Ordovician, most life was in the sea, so it was sea creatures such as trilobites, brachiopods and graptolites that were drastically reduced in number.

Late Devonian mass extinction

Three quarters of all species on Earth died out in the Late Devonian mass extinction, though it may have been a series of extinctions over several million years, rather than a single event. Life in the shallow seas were the worst affected, and reefs took a hammering, not returning to their former glory until new types of coral evolved over 100 million years later.

Permian mass extinction

The Permian mass extinction has been nicknamed The Great Dying, since a staggering 96% of species died out. All life on Earth today is descended from the 4% of species that survived.

Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction

During the final 18 million years of the Triassic period, there were two or three phases of extinction whose combined effects created the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction event. Climate change, flood basalt eruptions and an asteroid impact have all been blamed for this loss of life.

Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction

The Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction - also known as the K/T extinction - is famed for the death of the dinosaurs. However, many other organisms perished at the end of the Cretaceous including the ammonites, many flowering plants and the last of the pterosaurs.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Blue Mormon has been declared as the State butterfly of Maharashtra

Papilio polymnestor, which is commonly known as Blue Mormon, has been declared as the state butterfly by the Maharashtra government on June 22. Maharashtra has also become the first state to have the second largest butterfly, found in India, as the State butterfly.
The decision was taken at a meeting conducted by the State Wildlife Board in Mumbai. The meeting was chaired by Finance and Planning Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar. Earlier, the State of Maharashtra had also considered Giant Squirrel as the state animal and Green Pigeon as the state bird.
Here are some facts on the State butterfly of Maharashtra, Blue Mormon:
It has velvet, black wings with bright blue spots
It is the largest butterfly in India after the Troides minos commonly known as the Southern Birdwing
It is only found in Sri Lanka, the western ghats of Maharashtra, South India and coastal belts of the country
Out of the total number of butterflies in the country, only 15 percent are found in Maharashtra. To conserve butterflies in Maharashtra, Blue Mormon was declared as the state butterfly
The population of Blue Mormons is not threatened. Although the Blue Mormons can be seen throughout the year, they occur more commonly in the monsoon or after it
The most number of Blue Mormons are found in Sri Lanka because the country has availability of the most number of food plants
The butterfly is most common in evergreen forests
The pupa of this butterfly is very large in size

Blue Mormons usually like to sit on the Ixora flower species.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care .



Tuesday, 2 June 2015

“World Environment Day” (5th June) 2015


Environmental facts

·        Pollution kills over 1 million seabirds and 100 million mammals every year.

·        Garbage dumped in the ocean every year is approx.7 billion kilograms, plastic being the major constituent. Greenhouse gas emissions are also causing acidification of oceans.

·        People in high-density air pollution area have 20% higher risk of contracting lung cancer than people in less polluted areas. The smog disaster in London in 1952 killed over 4000 people in a few days due to high concentration of pollution.

·        80% of urban waste in India is dumped in the river Ganga.

·        There are 500 million cars in the world and this is projected to rise to 1 billion by 2030, effectively doubling the pollution.

·        Composting and recycling worldwide prevented 85 million tons of waste from being dumped in landfills in 2010.

·        Recycled glass can reduce air pollution by 20% and water pollution by 50%

·        Antarctica is the cleanest place on earth, protected by anti-pollution laws.

·        Children contribute to only 10% of world’s pollution but are prone to 40% of global disease.


Search This Blog

About Me

My photo
Conservation of Natural Heritage Information study Centre.