Excuse me, don't want to alarm anyone, but it's looking like we're further along the road to the end of the current era of life on Earth than we thought. We're not just talking about humanity dying off in a few hundred years; we're talking Sixth Major Extinction stuff. Don't worry, your stock portfolio will be fine. Just don't invest in any thousand-year bonds, because a new study published in Science Advances, indicates that, "using extremely conservative assumptions," extinctions of vertebrate species -- that's everything with a spine, from tree frogs to blue whales -- are dying off at increasing rates. Biggest mass die-off of species since the dinosaurs. Life on the planet will undoubtedly continue, but we big clumsy mammals are probably goners:

Using fossil records and extinction counts from a range of sources, the researchers calculated the normal ‘background rate’ of extinctions and compared it with a conservative estimate of current extinctions.

Natural population changes in the wild usually lead to two species of mammals dying out every 10,000 years. But the current rate is 114 times that level.

So it goes.

Using the typical rate of two vertebrate species extinctions a century, the researchers write, it would take between 800 and 10,000 years for various vertebrate types to go extinct. But we're in trouble, the researchers say:

[Their estimates] reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way. Averting a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services is still possible through intensified conservation efforts, but that window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

But honestly, do we really need every dumb little fish, especially the kind that are keeping it from raining in California? Turns out, we need a whole bunch of critters, or so say the nature-worshipping hippies who believe in "the environment," which has never done anything for us -- even though we bought reusable shopping bags.

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The problem with all these extinctions is that a whole bunch of different species depend on each other to keep life going. You lose your pollinators, and there goes agriculture and food and soil replenishment, and pretty soon it's more dire than just the price of gas going up and not having polar bears outside of zoos:

The study found that given these extinctions, the benefits of biodiversity like crop pollination and water purification could disappear in as little as three lifetimes, putting the human species in serious danger before others.

"If it is allowed to continue," lead study author Gerardo Ceballos told BBC News, "life would take many millions of years to recover and our species itself would likely disappear early on."

Pfft, then again, they said in the '70s that the planet would be overpopulated beyond its carrying capacity by now, and everything's just fine; we don't have 20 people in our apartment unless we invite them, so this is probably just a bid by liberals to scare people into accepting socialism. Pay no attention to Neil DeGrass Tyson strolling down the "Halls of Extinction" in his Cosmos remake. We'll be OK. Maybe. No need to panic until the Telescreen announces that the world's top thousand richest people are building a Space Ark in the Mohave desert. Now hush up and eat your Soylent Green.

[HuffPo / Telegraph / Science Advances]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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