Further evidence of Sixth Great Extinction

Species are vanishing quicker than at any point in the last 65 million years

We often speak of endangered/imperiled species in a relatively local context, in terms of wildlife that we might take for granted or might find nearby,  here that often means the western U.S. of A.  But every once in awhile it helps to learn more about our local situation by considering it within the context of a broader, more generalized perspective.

Globally, species are going extinct at such a rapid pace that many are suggesting that humanity is prompting the Sixth Great Extinction on Earth.

It says a lot about our time and our collective impact/influence.  To me, it also suggests a fundamental urgency with which each of us has a moral obligation to become more aware of and act to preserve the plantlife and wildlife, our local communities of life, that contribute to our unique standard of living in so many ways.

End of Alaotra grebe is further evidence of Sixth Great Extinction – Michael MCcarthy – The Independent

Earth’s Five Great Extinctions

65 million years ago (mya) Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T extinction). Did for the dinosaurs. May have been caused by a meteorite hitting what is now Yucatan, Mexico; 75 per cent of species disappeared.

205 mya Triassic-Jurassic extinction. Did away with competition for the dinosaurs.

251 mya Permian-Triassic (the worst of all). Known as “The Great Dying.” About 96 per cent of marine species and 70 per cent of land species disappeared.

360-375 mya Late Devonian. A prolonged series of extinctions which may have lasted 20 million years.

440-450 mya Ordovidician-Silurian. Two linked events which are considered together to have been the second worst extinction in the list.






  1. Mal Adapted Avatar
    Mal Adapted

    Beyond our moral obligation, I’ve always felt profound regret at not being able to witness, for example, the spectacle of millions of passenger pigeons darkening the sky; or seeing the Columbia river thick with migrating salmon, like Lewis and Clark. I feel a sense of personal loss, knowing I’m living in an impoverished world.

  2. Leslie Avatar

    I think it was about ’96 that I read Leakey’s book entitled “The Sixth Extinction”. Fantastic book and worth the read. 15 years and nothing changed, only getting worse. Yes, I agree, it is a continual heart break and heart ache.

  3. Leslie Avatar

    One other note: most, many people don’t realize how we need these species’ if our species is to survive. In my line of work, it is truly amazing how few adults even understand the basics of pollination and why we need bees and other insects. Man can’t live on cow alone!

  4. Fen Avatar

    What’s a bigger threat to the people of this country (and the world), alqaeda, the taliban, or habitat loss/species extinction?

    1. Jon Avatar

      Depends on who you ask.

  5. Devin Avatar

    Yale 360 has a great piece on the Anthropocene debate, should anybody be interested.


    “The Anthropocene Debate: Marking Humanity’s Impact”

  6. Nancy Avatar

    Thanks for the site Devin. The Green-Tech Race with China was another very good article and one that our government should be paying closer attention to when it comes to creating new jobs in this country.

  7. monty Avatar

    Agree w/above comments & in addition Edward Wilson’s book “The Diversity of Life” published in 1992 was sounding the alarm about species extinction rates. What hasn’t changed is that the majority of American’s remain fat, dum & happy about environmental issues. As of last week the number one selling book in US is Glenn Beck’s “lastest pile of crap”! Fool’s always win because most American’s are more interested in the “blame game” in lieu of solving problems.

  8. Mal Adapted Avatar
    Mal Adapted

    OTOH, when I’m hiking, I’m sort of glad there are no short-faced bears left 8^|.

  9. WM Avatar

    And yet here we are, dinking around with gray wolves while other species continue their rapid decline.

  10. Nancy Avatar

    From what I’ve been able to gather from posts here and linked articles WM, “dinking around” with wolves has actually benefited many species (not to mention various forms of plant life) that had been declining as a result of wolves not being present for so many years.

    1. WM Avatar

      Yes Nancy, I realize that. I just wish we could move away from using wolves as a marker, and catalyst for directly or indirectly benefitting other species. It is a shame, for example, there has been little focus on species like the wolverine or fisher which have been discussed here recently, and countless other species of plants and animals in risk of extinction.

      It is a complex dialog, since the wolf has the ability to generate funding for groups like Defenders, HSUS and others. Using wolves for this same purpose has the secondary negative effect of turning off and even making other groups concerned about wildlife hostile, well because wolves do what wolves do. They then are numbed by these secondary benefits. All the while it avoids the honest discussion of what is really going on in our world that is affecting other species.

      When does one ever hear much discussion about population growth world-wide or in the US, and all the resource consumption, and land use conversion that accompanies this growth?

  11. Nancy Avatar

    “When does one ever hear much discussion about population growth world-wide or in the US, and all the resource consumption, and land use conversion that accompanies this growth?”

    WM – I think there are some countries addressing that situation, for what ever reasons. http://geography.about.com/od/populationgeography/a/zero.htm
    Won’t see the US on that list since the population is growing here by the rate of 2.5 million a year. I’d love to see a moratorium on birth in this country (my neighbor’s daughter, who’s a well educated young woman, just popped out her 8th baby) Religious beliefs I fear, played a big role in their decision to “go forth and multiply” again and again and again.
    But we’d also have to address immigration and poverty – two more reasons why the population continues to grow.
    Sorry, rambling! The problem of wolves pales in comparison with the negative impact of human sprawl.

    1. Jon Avatar

      And they say wolves are overpopulated.

  12. Leslie Avatar

    Long but very thoughtful article in the latest Mother Jones on population, ‘The Last Taboo’ subject. http://motherjones.com/environment/2010/05/population-growth-india-vatican

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Brian Ertz