According to a recent report, Earth is possibly headed toward its next "mass extinction event." Even though large-scale biodiversity extinction is occurring, researchers assert that this biodiversity extinction "doesn't qualify as a mass extinction just yet, [but] the earth is rapidly barrelling towards the sixth such event" as described in the video below. [i]
Formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago, there have been five mass extinctions on Earth, during which roughly 75% of life on the planet was wiped out nearly 2.8 million years ago. The recent study on the Sixth Mass Extinction concludes that "there is a roughly proportional relationship between Earth's average surface temperature and Earth's biodiversity." [ii]
Determining what qualifies as extinction is based on measuring the "background rate" of extinction. Additionally, major mass extinctions "result in more than 60 percent species loss." Further, climate scientists, activists and global leaders have been working fervently to keep the Earth's temperature below 1.5C; however, a trajectory report indicates "humanity is on track to exceed 3C of global warming by 2030, which could cause millions of species to go extinct." [iii]
The video below details why 1.5C is the key temperature.
The five previous mass extinctions include the:
- The Ordovician-Silurian Mass Extinction eliminated up to 85% of all living species during the Paleozoic Era roughly 440 million years ago due to continental drift.
- The Late Devonian Mass Extinction eliminated almost 80% of all living species during the Palezoic Era nearly 375 million years ago due to several suspected reasons including volcanic eruptions and meteor strikes.
- The Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction eliminated roughly 96% of all living species during the Paleozoic Era around 250 million years ago due to unknown causes.
- The Triassic-Jurassic Mass Extinction eliminated over half of all living species during the Mesozoic Era an estimated 200 million years ago due to major volcanic activity.
- The Cretaceous-Paleogene, AKA K-T Mass Extinction eliminated about 75% of all living species during the Mesozoic Era 65 million years ago due to extreme impact from an asteroid or meteor. This is also the period that wiped dinosaurs from the face of the Earth. [iv]
Despite controversy as to whether the 6th extinction is happening now, or is impending, the general consensus appears to be that a 6th mass extinction is inevitable.
[i] Antony Ashkenaz, End of the world warning as humanity on the brink of 'mass extinction'- new timeline, (Aug. 12, 2022)
[iv] Scott Dutfield, The 5 mass extinction events that shaped the history of Earth - and the 6th that's happening now, (May 17, 2021)