Anthropocene defaunation

Are at the beginning of the sixth great extinction?  Some seem to think so. Stamford researchers have have conducted a review of the scientific literature and concluded that we are on the verge of the next (sixth) great extinction (defaunation). 

The planet’s current biodiversity, the product of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary trial and error, is the highest in the history of life. But it may be reaching a tipping point.

In a new review of scientific literature and analysis of data published in Science, an international team of scientists cautions that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what appears to be the early days of the planet’s sixth mass biological extinction event.

The loss is driven primarily by loss of habitat and global climate disruption.  The list of extinctions since 1500 include hunting to extinction and loss of habitat.  I didn’t find any losses due to global climate disruption.  The report seems to be very similar to a report in 2010 on vertebrate extinctions. In both cases, the conclusions were based on literature reviews and endangered species lists and estimates.  Extinctions are still quite rare.  I’ve missed the global climate disruption, so shat must be based on predictions of mass extinctions from predictions of climate change.  At least they aren’t claiming extinction of unknown species that now we will never know.


7 responses to “Anthropocene defaunation

  1. “But it may be reaching a tipping point.”

    I sometimes wish the “scientists” that publish this kind of BS would go extinct. I MAY hit Mega Millions next drawing. The human race and all above ground life on the planet MAY all die every second of every day from a gamma ray burst from some new Pulsar! And finally I MAY just barf the next time I read of another “scientific” dooms day paper.

  2. Interesting question.

    In view of convincing evidence that we can’t predict the weather, I doubt if we can predict the next extinction.

  3. “A review of the scientific literature” (!) Given the complete BS in so-called science publication these days, that statement is a royal hoot! Based on my review of supermarket checkout literature, aliens are indeed among us and in control! What BS and, as many others always ask, who’s funding such crap?

  4. I would like to suggest that the Stanford researchers remove a variable from their model: climate.

    Agriculture, deforestation, ranching and herding are sufficient to account for loss of biodiversity.

    The application of Occam’s razor would demonstrate that this study has added propaganda to support the science.

  5. If you review the ‘list’ I believe you will find that most of the species we have lost are isolated island species that died out due to the introduction of invasive species by early explorers. Since about 1900 or so, the loss of species has declined rapidly.

    Also I can remember reading at least 2 articles this year about the discovery of populations of thought to be extinct species so maybe the list is not as accurate as we are lead to believe. Just because a species has not been seen in a while does not mean it is extinct.

    Finally, Willis Eschenbach over at had done a couple of really thorough pieces on extinction. He does a MUCH better job than me of explaining it. It is well worth your time to check it out.

  6. The science behind the ‘Anthropocene defaunation’ bears a lot of similarities to global warming research.

    Scientists preaching mass extinctions have a terrible problem they almost never mention: that there are actually very few verified extinctions of known species, and that many ‘extinct’ species are actually ‘rediscovered’ later.

    They get around this problem by — drum roll — computer modeling. And it turns out that, if you make the right set of assumptions, the computer models will generate mass extinctions.

    So you gather together a — drum roll — consensus of computer modelers of extinctions, you can generate a “review of scientific literature and analysis of data” and ‘prove’ mass extinction.

    No doubt many of the papers in the “scientific literature” conclude that — drum roll — more money is needed to study mass extinctions.

  7. What I would like to see extinct are Government Grants for research.

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