When dinosaurs roamed
A new mass extinction
It is happening
What is a mass extinction?
Mollusks
Animal diversity
Since 1500
It's our fault
The Anthropocene
Agriculture
The Great Acceleration
Brave new world
Bees and butterflies
Within a single generation
More than honey
The butterfly effect
Crucial for pollination
An inconvenient truth
Land and raw materials
We did start the fire
Time's running out
When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(1/21)
When dinosaurs roamed

The fifth mass extinction occurred 65 million years ago, when an asteroid wiped off the dinosaurs from the face of the Earth. Now scientists fear that the sixth extinction might have already begun.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(2/21)
A new mass extinction

A team led by Prof. Robert Cowie, from the University of Hawaii, argues in a study published by Biological Reviews that it “seems increasingly likely” that we’re in the early stages of a new mass extinction.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(3/21)
It is happening

“Denying it is simply flying in the face of the mountain of data that is rapidly accumulating, and there is no longer room for skepticism, wondering whether it really is happening,” argues the study, as quoted by news website Vice.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(4/21)
What is a mass extinction?

A mass extinction occurs when around 70% of animal and plant life cease to exist. In other words, it’s a global catastrophe where biodiversity and the ecosystem are up for grabs.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(5/21)
Mollusks

Cowie’s study focuses on invertebrate animals, specifically mollusks. The team behind the study considers that the International Union for Conservation of Nature provides disproportionate attention given to vertebrates, such as birds and mammals.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(6/21)
Animal diversity

“The International Union for Conservation of Nature has not evaluated any but a tiny, tiny fraction of invertebrates such as insects and snails and spiders and crustaceans, which constitute 95 percent of animal diversity,” Cowie told Vice.

Image: Ed van Duijin / Unsplash

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(7/21)
Since 1500

The study made by Cowie and his team indicates that something around 7.5% to 13% of species has disappeared since 1500, which suggests that we’re heading towards mass extinction.

Pictured: A Tasmanian tiger (Thylacine), which was declared extinct in 1936, is displayed at the Australian Museum in Sydney.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(8/21)
It's our fault

If we’re indeed heading towards the sixth mass extinction, it would be the first that we know of caused by the intervention of a species. In this case, humans.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(9/21)
The Anthropocene

In fact, the human effect on the environment is so intense that many scientists posit that we live in a new geological epoch: The Anthropocene, which began when humans started to meaningfully impact Earth’s geology and ecosystems.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(10/21)
Agriculture

The Anthropocene so far remains hypothetical. Some claim that it began when humans developed agriculture, 12,000-15,000 years ago.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(11/21)
The Great Acceleration

Other experts place The Anthropocene hand in hand with The Great Acceleration, the astounding rate of human growth and resource consumption that took off after World War 2.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(12/21)
Brave new world

In other words, the world in which our grandparents were born is completely different from the world we live in now.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(13/21)
Bees and butterflies

A good example of the incoming sixth mass extinction is the disappearance of bees and butterflies around the globe.

Image: Dmitry Grigoriev / Unsplash

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(14/21)
Within a single generation

According to The Guardian, the bumblebee population in Europe and North America has declined over 30% in the span of a single generation, which points to mass extinction.

Image: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(15/21)
More than honey

The collapse of the bumblebee population also affects humans. The bees are not only responsible for honey, but also pollinate crops such as tomatoes or berries. Without them, less food is produced.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(16/21)
The butterfly effect

Meanwhile, National Geographic reports that over 450 species of butterflies in the US Southwest are also disappearing.

Image: Ed van Dujin / Unsplash

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(17/21)
Crucial for pollination

Butterflies are also crucial to pollinate many plants and flowers, affecting the food chain and the entire ecosystem.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(18/21)
An inconvenient truth

The main culprit for the decline of bees and butterflies is warmer environments, caused by climate change. The rising temperatures turn the previous home of these species into something inhospitable.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(19/21)
Land and raw materials

That's not even taking into account the inordinate use of land and raw materials, affecting or outright destroying whole ecosystems.

Pictured: The effects of deforestation in the Amazon Jungle.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(20/21)
We did start the fire

The damage humans have made to the planet has proven to be irreversible. The most worrying part is that, despite endless initiatives and summits with the best intentions, it continues to this day.

When will the sixth mass extinction occur?
(21/21)
Time's running out

Meanwhile, time is running out to still maintain the precious balance that has enabled humanity to live for thousands of years. Once we have lost that balance, who knows what challenges will face the next generation.

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