The sixth mass extinction is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than normal

July 11, 2017 by  
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For years, scientists have warned that Earth is entering it sixth mass extinction — an era in which three-quarters of all species die off within only a few centuries. However terrifying this notion may be, nothing compares to a recent finding, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which paints a full picture of “biological annihilation.” According to the study, which was conducted by Gerardo Ceballos, an ecology professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, hundreds of species are disappearing at a faster-than-expected rate. And, believe it or not, even humans are at-risk. The researchers wrote that numerous species around the world are experiencing an “extremely high degree of population decay.” Findings from the study support this. For instance, nearly one-third of the 27,600 land-based mammals, bird, amphibian and reptile species are shrinking in terms of territorial range and their numbers. After looking at a well-documented group of 177 mammal species, the researchers also determined that all had their territories reduced by at least 30 percent between the years of 1900 and 2015. Furthermore, more than 40 percent of the species lost at least 80 percent of their geographic range during this time. As a result of these findings, the study authors wrote that “Earth’s sixth mass extinction is more severe” than previously believed. Additionally, the major event is “ongoing.” Scientists have already established that 50 percent of the Earth’s wildlife has been wiped out in the last 40 years alone, but no one really comprehended the extent to which the numbers have declined. According to Anthony Barnosky, executive director of the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve at Stanford University, this is because conservationists and researchers are “not constantly counting numbers of individuals.” He added, “it doesn’t take complicated math to figure out that, if we keep cutting by half every 40 years, pretty soon there’s going to be nothing left.” Related: Vanishing land snails signal the 6th mass extinction is happening now Perhaps the most terrifying discovery is that species are going extinct at roughly 100 times the rate which could be considered normal. In fact, within twenty years, the African elephant may go extinct. Barn swallows, giraffes , rhinos, pangolins, and jaguars, as well, may only be preserved in zoos if their populations continue to decline. With 37 percent of the Earth’s land surface now farmland or pasture (according to the World Bank), and humans utilizing polluting resources at a faster rate than they can be replenished, the whole world is in jeopardy unless sustainable initiatives are introduced and implemented. Fortunately, there’s still time, according to Ceballos. He wrote, “The good news is, we still have time. These results show it is time to act. The window of opportunity is small, but we can still do something to save species and populations.” + PNAS Via CNN Images via Pixabay

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The sixth mass extinction is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than normal

The world will run out of breathable air unless carbon emissions are cut

June 22, 2016 by  
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As the world struggles to find effective ways to limit carbon emissions and slow global warming , a recent study has found that the stakes may be higher than anyone has realized. According to Sergei Petrovskii, an applied mathematics professor at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, an unchecked rise in global temperatures could end up drastically reducing the amount of breathable oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere, threatening life on Earth as we know it. In a study published late last year in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology , Petrovskii ran computer models looking at the phytoplankton in the world’s oceans, microscopic marine plants responsible for producing two-thirds of the world’s atmospheric oxygen. In examining the ability of phytoplankton to photosynthesize at various temperatures, Petrovskii learned something incredibly troubling — at a certain point, these plants would simply halt oxygen production, leaving the world gasping for breath. Related: Alarming study shows disastrous climate change will strike much sooner than expected Perhaps the most terrifying part of Petrovskii’s findings is the fact that this catastrophe would come with few, if any, warning signs. If global warming continues unchecked, some scientists estimate we could reach this drastic tipping point as soon as 2100 , leaving us with only about 84 years before a mass die-off of human and animal life might occur. It’s important to note that this is an avoidable, although plausible, catastrophe: this doomsday scenario will only occur if we allow the world’s oceans to warm by a total of 6 degrees Celsius. Most climate scientists warn that to avoid the most disastrous effects of climate change , global temperatures must be halted before they rise more than 2°C  above pre-industrial levels, and this is the goal recently adopted by the world’s nations at the Paris climate accord. Related: Runaway Global Emissions Make the Two-Degree Global Warming Limit Highly Unlikely That being said, the research is also showing that staying below the 2°C limit is increasingly unlikely unless global emissions can be slashed drastically, and the deals reached during the COP21 talks simply aren’t enough. The Climate Action Tracker , an independent group of European climate experts, estimates that current agreements will put eventual global temperatures at around 2.7°C , far lower than the scenario outlined in Petrovskii’s paper, but high enough to potentially trigger major sea level rise , destroy most coral reefs and glaciers , and permanently alter agricultural cycles around the world. In other words, though we’re currently on track to avoid an Earth with completely unbreathable air, we’re nowhere near where we need to be to avoid the worst effects of global climate change. Still, lawmakers must absolutely keep the possibility of this catastrophe in mind when crafting environmental policy. All life on Earth may depend on it. Via TakePart Images via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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The world will run out of breathable air unless carbon emissions are cut

The cicadas are have arrived, blanketing Midwestern porches by the thousands

June 21, 2016 by  
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The iconic, spine-tingling line from Poltergeist, “They’re here…” is on the lips of wide-eyed mid-westerners during the deafening invasion of 17-year cicadas. Photos of one Mansfield, Ohio homeowner’s porch have gone viral , depicting piles and piles of discarded exoskeletons and deceased insects. The scene, to some, is like a real-life horror movie. Cicadas emerge from under the ground in broods. This particular brood is surfacing for the first time since 1999. Over the span of about six weeks they will shed their exoskeleton, mate, lay eggs, and then die. The thunderous mating call of millions of male cicadas is the biggest nuisance for humans, unless they show up on your doorstep. Richelle Smart, in northern Ohio, recently posted photos of thousands of bugs overtaking her porch. Her children dutifully helped sweep up the crunchy mounds, when they weren’t not jumping back at the sight of a live, bug-eyed cicada. Related: They’re coming… BILLIONS of cicadas to invade the northeast next month The cicadas’ presence may only be an annoyance to people, as they have a symbiotic relationship with Mother Nature. Laying eggs on tree branches promotes healthy pruning and the underground burrowing aerates the soil. The exoskeletons are returned to the Earth as nourishment, completing the cycle of life. If you are living in eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia, southwest Pennsylvania, or some pockets of Virginia and Maryland, the beauty of nature may be the last thing on your mind. Luckily, once this brood takes care of their business, you won’t have to worry about them popping back up for another 17 years. Via  Daily Mail Images via  Wikimedia , Facebook

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The cicadas are have arrived, blanketing Midwestern porches by the thousands

Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time

June 21, 2016 by  
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The FDA just approved the world’s first clinical trial of a Zika vaccine . The tests will determine whether or not the vaccine is safe for use in normal, healthy people – however, they will not be able to determine whether or not the vaccine prevents the disease. The vaccine, called GLS-5700, has been shown to cause a strong antibody response against the Zika virus in monkeys and mice. With any luck, the results of this new study will be available by the end of the year. The trial will be run by Inovio Pharmaceuticals , a company specializing in immunotherapy, and GeneOne Life Science , a DNA vaccine developer. It will begin in just a few short weeks, and it will include 40 adult subjects. If successful, the vaccine may be tested in people who have an existing Zika infection in later trials. GLS-5700 is what is known as a ” DNA vaccine ,” a relatively new approach to fighting disease. Instead of directly injecting parts of the infectious agent, it consists of DNA coded to produce a special protein that surrounds the Zika virus. The vaccine is injected the same way as a normal shot, and it’s also zapped with a device that delivers a short electrical pulse to help guide the DNA into the patient’s cells. Once this process is complete, the new DNA trains the immune system of the patient to fight the disease. Related: Millions of genetically altered mosquitoes are being released in the Cayman Islands to fight Zika This may be the first Zika vaccine approved for testing, but it isn’t the only one being developed. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is also in the process of developing a DNA vaccine , which may begin phase 1 testing as soon as August. However, it’s important to note that clinical testing is a long and complex process, and that it might still be years yet before either of these vaccines are ready for the mass market. Via The Verge Photos via Tom and Oregon State University

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Experimental Zika vaccine to be tested on humans for the first time

Humans could cause the next mass extinction by wiping out the world’s animals

December 29, 2014 by  
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If animal populations continue to decline at their current rate, we are heading for a  mass extinction . New research estimates that 41% of amphibians will be wiped off the planet by 2200 as a direct result of human activity. Scientists also warn that we’ll lose over 25% of all mammals and about 13% of birds. Read the rest of Humans could cause the next mass extinction by wiping out the world’s animals Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: animal extinction , Biodiversity , Climate Change , climate change animal extinction , endangered species , global warming , habitat destruction , habitat destruction animal extinction , human driven extinction , human driven mass extinction , human population , loss of biodiversity , mass extinction , next mass extinction , over fishing animal extinction , pollution animal extinction , species dying off

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Humans could cause the next mass extinction by wiping out the world’s animals

The Sixth Mass Extinction of Fauna and Flora is Imminent, Duke University Study Reveals

June 20, 2014 by  
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A new study has revealed that extinction rates for plants and animals are currently 1,000 times higher than they were before humans arrived. The rate is so high, in fact, that the planet hasn’t seen anything like it since the dinosaurs were wiped out in a mass extinction event 65 million years ago. If we don’t take measures to address the situation , the lead scientist for the project, biologist Stuart Pimm of Duke University , says that we are heading for a sixth mass extinction . Read the rest of The Sixth Mass Extinction of Fauna and Flora is Imminent, Duke University Study Reveals Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 6th mass extinction , Duke University , extinction rate , extinction rate is 1000 times higher than before humans , global warming , mass extinction , sixth mass extinction , Stuart Pimm

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The Sixth Mass Extinction of Fauna and Flora is Imminent, Duke University Study Reveals

The Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction May Be Underway

March 7, 2011 by  
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photo: Mandy / Creative Commons The following is a guest post from Skeptical Science by Dana Nuccitelli A “mass extinction” event is characterised as a period during which at least 75% of the Earth’s species die out in a period of a few million years or less.  In the past 540 million years, five such mass extinction events have occurred, but according to a study by UC Berkeley’s Anthony Barnosky and colleagues recently published in the j…

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The Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction May Be Underway

PlugShare iPhone App Shows You Where To Charge Your EV, Keeps Range Anxiety in Check

March 7, 2011 by  
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A new app called PlugShare for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad is making it a whole lot easier to find convenient places to recharge your electric vehicle, which will make it a whole lot easier to reduce range anxiety.

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PlugShare iPhone App Shows You Where To Charge Your EV, Keeps Range Anxiety in Check

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