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The next mass extinction

by Kirk Citron on December 14th, 02009

The Long News: stories that might still matter fifty, or a hundred, or ten thousand years from now.

Hollywood notwithstanding, it seems fairly unlikely that mankind will be wiped out in 02012. But unfortunately, tales of mass extinction turn out to have some basis in reality; some even say we are already in the midst of a sixth great planetary catastrophe. The difference this time is that the culprit isn’t an asteroid, or a volcanic eruption: it’s us.

Some recent news stories about threats to biodiversity:

1. The most dangerous animal is man:
It’s nature’s law: when people arrive, animals vanish
More than 800 wildlife species now extinct
Species census reveals extinction threat
New list highlights animals threatened by climate change
Loss of top predators causing surge in smaller predators, ecosystem collapse
Mankind using Earth’s resources at alarming rate

2. On the other hand, maybe things will turn around:
New findings show a quick rebound from marine mass extinction event
Antarctica served as climatic refuge in Earth’s greatest extinction event
Australian dust storms feed life explosion

3. Why we might care:
Animal biodiversity keeps people healthy

4. Not to worry, evolution will make more:
Study catches two bird populations as they split into separate species

We invite you to submit Long News story suggestions here.