Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass
extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million
years ago. If present trends continue one half of all species of life on
earth will be extinct in 100 years. (For details see links
Following the article below are more than 200 links to
authoritative reports and updates about the currentmass extinction. New
articles are added regularly.
Underway, Majority of Biologists Say
A majority of the nation's biologists are convinced that a
"mass extinction" of plants and animals is underway that poses a major threat
to humans in the next century, yet most Americans are only dimly aware of the
problem, a poll says.
The rapid disappearance of species was ranked as
one of the planet's gravest environmental worries, surpassing pollution,
global warming and the thinning of the ozone layer, according to the survey of
400 scientists commissioned by New York's American Museum of Natural History.
The poll's release yesterday comes on the heels of a groundbreaking
study of plant diversity that concluded than at least one in eight known plant
species is threatened with extinction. Although scientists are divided over
the specific numbers, many believe that the rate of loss is greater now than
at any time in history.
"The speed at which species are being lost is
much faster than any we've seen in the past -- including those [extinctions]
related to meteor collisions," said Daniel Simberloff, a University of
Tennessee ecologist and prominent expert in biological diversity who
participated in the museum's survey. [Note: the last mass extinction caused by
a meteor collision was that of the dinosaurs, 65 million years
Most of his peers apparently agree. Nearly seven out of 10 of the
biologists polled said they believed a "mass extinction" was underway, and an
equal number predicted that up to one-fifth of all living species could
disappear within 30 years. Nearly all attributed the losses to human activity,
especially the destruction of plant and animal habitats.
dissenters, some argue that there is not yet enough data to support the view
that a mass extinction is occurring. Many of the estimates of species loss are
extrapolations based on the global destruction of rain forests and other rich
Among non-scientists, meanwhile, the subject appears to have
made relatively little impression. Sixty percent of the laymen polled
professed little or no familiarity with the concept of biological diversity,
and barely half ranked species loss as a "major threat."
scientists interviewed in the Louis Harris poll were members of the
Washington-based American Institute of Biological Sciences, a professional
society of more than 5,000 scientists.
overview of the magnitude of the crisis, scroll slowly down this page and read
just the titles of all of the links. When you finish, go back and begin to
click on the links to read the full articles.
New articles are added to this list regularly. Most recent update: July 14, 2004.