Are you worried about the current extinction?

I consume science articles and documentaries on a daily basis. Popular science, that is. There is an increasing information on the current extinction but people (individuals, communities, nations, and supra-national organizations) seem to be busy with other more stringent issues. It looks suicidal to me, but I may be the weird one.

The Wikipedia article on the current extinction is entitled Holocene extinction: “The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the Sixth extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is a name for the ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch (since around 10,000 BCE) mainly due to human activity.”

Are you worried about this?

Kinda worried but not much. Any kind of extinction gets my attention or extinction theory gets my attention but not to the level that I really search out information or follow the stories.

Honestly I don’t really care in any significant way. It would be nice if it wasn’t happening, but that’s about it. There are causes and tangential issues to the extinctions that are a matter of concern, but the extinctions were largely inevitable despite the cause.

This is an extremely ignorant statement. No they weren’t. The vast majority of extinctions that have happened in the recent past, and the many more that will happen in coming centuries, are directly or indirectly due to human activity.

I don’t disagree that they are caused by human activity, I didn’t intend it to sound that way. But largely they would happen due to the loss of habitat, not simply from hunting to extinction or pollution. Even if we don’t shoot all the elephants to sell their tusks to horny guys people are going to take over the land and there won’t be room for them to live. I have a greater concern for the species going extinct because we have polluted the environment and possibly gross climate change because those things will affect us directly.

Concerned, in that we don’t know the ramifications as far as the extinction may affect human civilization.

Utterly unconcerned, in that we have a LONG way to go before we reach the degree of some of the earlier mass extinctions, and life always recovered and filled all the ecological niches in pretty short order (at least as far as geologic time is concerned)

I am kind of worried, but not terribly so. Extinctions are as much a natural state of affairs as not-extinctions. We should minimize our impact/damage, but there’s nothing we can do to prevent all disruptions that we’ll cause.

The current rate of extinctions is not at all “natural,” which is the point. It is presently about 1,000 times the normal “background” level, and may increase to 10,000 times the normal level. Usually extinction is in the same ballpark range as the origin of new species; right now its way above that. And that increased rate is almost entirely due to human activity.

Some disruptions may be inevitable, but we could do a lot better job than what we are doing. Many extinctions have been caused by pure ignorance and carelessness. Forests are cut and habitat destroyed for no net economic gain. Basically we’re burning the library to toast marshmallows.

The extinction rate has also been above the background level at numerous times in the past. Wikipedia lists 24 mass extensions. These things happen. 23 of those events happened in 550 million years, so a mass extinction occurs, on average, every 25. million years. On a geological time frame, it’s not such a big deal.

It bothers me a lot. Humans have reached a level of success that is suicidal in evolutionary terms. That bad thing is that we are going to take so many species with us before we go extinct.
It would probably be best for the earth if humans went extinct sooner than later. Not that I have a death wish or anything it just seems to make more sense.

How do we know? Most of the species currently gone extinct are beetles and other smallish creatures. They leave a very poor fossil record. Most of the megafauna that has gone recently extinct has not been very successful species, or has been subspecies.

In other words, we base past extinction on the fossil record. The Holocene extinction would hardly leave a blip in the fossil record.

Here’s a list from the wiki page:

Aurochs (1627), a wild cow that was domesticated to form modern cattle.
Steller’s sea cow (1768), a large sirenian driven to extinction across its prehistoric range across the North Pacific by hunting. The last populations, reduced to the Commander Islands, were driven to extinction 27 years after their discovery by Europeans in 1741 (where they may have numbered at 2000) after heavy hunting.[51]
Sardinian pika (1774) primitive lagomorph native to the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Corsica
Bluebuck, a species of antelope. Despite already being uncommon by the time of European discovery, habitat conversion for agriculture and hunting resulted in its extinction by 1800.
Atlas bear (1870s)
Falkland Islands wolf (1876)
Quagga (1883), zebra subspecies, Southeast Africa. Recent attempts have been made by the Quagga Project to selectively breed Burchell’s zebras to superficially resemble quaggas.
Tarpan, a European wild horse. Although extinct in the wild by 1890, the last captive animal died in 1909.
Thylacine (1936) or Tasmanian tiger, Thylacinus cynocephalus, a marsupial carnivore prosecuted by farmers and the government for predating on livestock.
Caribbean monk seal (1950s)
Japanese sea lion (1970s)
Pyrenean ibex (2000). Attempts were made to clone the species shortly after its extinction, and despite brief success the only surviving foetus died after 7 minutes.
Yangtze dolphin, extinct 2006
The closely related Bali tiger (1937) and Javan tiger (1970s)
Eastern cougar (2011)[52] a subspecies of North American cougar
Western black rhinoceros (2011), a subspecies

We would actually see a massive increase in “Aurochs” fossils as they are the same species as modern cattle.

Sardinian pika was never wide spread or successful, likely would leave no fossil record.

Quagga & Pyrenean ibex are subspecies, we couldnt tell by the fossil record. Atlas bear may well have been simply a population, not even a subspecies.
Tarpan might have been simple a feral horse or a Przewalski’s horse variant.

So, there’s only a few species that we’d notice disappearing in the fossil record anyway.

Yes, there’s a lot of insects ext going extinct. This could be alarming or it could occur normally. How would we know?

Insects do appear in the fossil record, by impression and other forms of preservation. That’s how we know there used to be gigantic dragonflies in the Cretaceous (to use one example).

"…beetles and other smallish creatures. They leave a very poor fossil record.’

Note "very poor"I didnt say “nonexistent”.

http://www.fossilmuseum.net/Tree_of_Life/PhylumArthropoda/Subphylum-Hexapoda/subphylum_insecta_fossils.htm

Unlike the trilobite that has left a prodigious fossil record, the preservation of insects in sedimentary matrix is relatively rare, and essentially limited to the Lagerstätte sites. The reason for the scarcity of insect fossil is the poor preservation potential of the insect’s exoskeleton. Like other Arthropods, insects have an external skeleton called an exoskeleton. Unlike the thick and calcified trilobite exoskeleton, the insect exoskeleton is made of a thin, plastic-like material called chitin, along with a tough protein. This thin, waterproof covering simply does not preserve well in most oxygenated environments, making insect fossils sparse despite the tremendous number that could have been preserved.

We don’t live on a geological time scale, but a human one. It isn’t a tragedy for the planet, because the planet doesn’t care. It’s a tragedy for us to lose such a significant part of biodiversity. This is like saying it doesn’t matter that the Library of Alexandria burned down because people are still writing books.

Shit happens.

The estimates are mostly based on larger vertebrates for which we have good information. But even if the extinction rate of just vertebrates is 1,000 times background, isn’t that bad enough?

Estimates of extinction of smaller organisms are not based on the fossil record, but on the extent of habitat loss, typical range sizes, endemism, relationships with food plants, species/area relationships, and so forth.

Total and utter nonsense. But I’m not going to try to correct your misinformation here because it usually just leads to you posting much more misinformation, and its not worth the headache.

I voted “A little worried” because I am actually *very *worried, but don’t think there’s much we can do about it. Or, rather, that we *won’t *do anything.

I wonder if this is the resolution of the Fermi Paradox- perhaps all intelligent species manage to exploit their environment to their own extinction before they can get off their planet. At this point, I think the only way we can survive as a species is to make it to the singularity and upload ourselves (at which point, of course, we wouldn’t really be a species anymore).

Indeed. Maybe our species is not as intelligent as we like to think after all. I no longer believe mankind will make it.

I didn’t say it doesn’t matter at all or that I don’t care at all. I’m in the “little bit worried” category.

But the Library of Alexandria is a perfect example: fires are a fact of life. We shouldn’t burn our own buildings down, and we should do what we can to mitigate risk and restore damage, but the cost of reducing fire damage to 0% is so much higher than the benefits obtained. There’s a cost/benefit analysis to be done there.

We have decent info on the current species going extinct, sure. But do we have 'good information" on extinctions of subspecies, etc? Can you tell a subspecies from the fossil record with any guarantee?

I gave the list of Mammals which have gone extinct in the last 500 years:


Aurochs (1627), a wild cow that was domesticated to form modern cattle. **(not a species) **

Steller’s sea cow (1768),

Sardinian pika (1774) **(not megafauna) **

Bluebuck,

Atlas bear (1870s) not a species.

Falkland Islands wolf (1876)

Quagga (1883), zebra subspecies,

Tarpan, a European wild horse. Although extinct in the wild by 1890, the last captive animal died in 1909.not a species.

Thylacine (1936) or Tasmanian tiger, Thylacinus cynocephalus,

Caribbean monk seal (1950s)

Japanese sea lion (1970s) (Species or subspecies)

Pyrenean ibex (2000). subspecies

Yangtze dolphin, extinct 2006 (status is unconfirmed)

The closely related Bali tiger (1937) and Javan tiger (1970s) subspecies

Eastern cougar (2011)[52] a** subspecies** of North American cougar

Western black rhinoceros (2011), a** subspecies**

So, there. Wiki listed every Mammal gone extinct in the last 500 years. There are six definite species of mammalian megafauna gone. That’s about one per hundred years. Some of those were hardly “successful” being insular, etc. It’s doubtful that of those 6, more than one or two would be represented in the fossil record.

Do you doubt the list? Do you have hundreds of other** mammalian megafauna species** to add? Are you saying that list of extinct mammalian megafauna is “misinformation”?