The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

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The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Stercutus » Sat Jun 20, 2015 8:25 pm

Hope everyone has their bags packed.

http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/5/e1400253
Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction

Abstract

The oft-repeated claim that Earth’s biota is entering a sixth “mass extinction” depends on clearly demonstrating that current extinction rates are far above the “background” rates prevailing in the five previous mass extinctions. Earlier estimates of extinction rates have been criticized for using assumptions that might overestimate the severity of the extinction crisis. We assess, using extremely conservative assumptions, whether human activities are causing a mass extinction. First, we use a recent estimate of a background rate of 2 mammal extinctions per 10,000 species per 100 years (that is, 2 E/MSY), which is twice as high as widely used previous estimates. We then compare this rate with the current rate of mammal and vertebrate extinctions. The latter is conservatively low because listing a species as extinct requires meeting stringent criteria. Even under our assumptions, which would tend to minimize evidence of an incipient mass extinction, the average rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century is up to 114 times higher than the background rate. Under the 2 E/MSY background rate, the number of species that have gone extinct in the last century would have taken, depending on the vertebrate taxon, between 800 and 10,000 years to disappear. These 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.
http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/ ... 00253.full
Arguably the most serious aspect of the environmental crisis is the loss of biodiversity—the other living things with which we share Earth. This affects human well-being by interfering with crucial ecosystem services such as crop pollination and water purification and by destroying humanity’s beautiful, fascinating, and culturally important living companions (4, 5, 15, 27–30).

Our analysis shows that current extinction rates vastly exceed natural average background rates, even when (i) the background rate is considered to be double previous estimates and when (ii) data on modern vertebrate extinctions are treated in the most conservative plausible way. We emphasize that our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis because our aim was to place a realistic “lower bound” on humanity’s impact on biodiversity. Therefore, although biologists cannot say precisely how many species there are, or exactly how many have gone extinct in any time interval, we can confidently conclude that modern extinction rates are exceptionally high, that they are increasing, and that they suggest a mass extinction under way—the sixth of its kind in Earth’s 4.5 billion years of history.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by ineffableone » Sat Jun 20, 2015 9:55 pm

Yep, I have been telling people we were in a 6th mass extinction for quite some time. Not that I had the science to back it up, just a feeling I got from seeing what was being done in the world and how much life was endangered or going extinct.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Boom40mm » Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:24 pm

Yeah if you look over just the U.S. on Google earth the anthropogenic changes are astonishing. The few unspoilt areas are the national/state parks, and they are not that substantial in the grand scheme of things. Scary stuff.

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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Mountainsquid » Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:46 pm

Boom40mm wrote:Yeah if you look over just the U.S. on Google earth the anthropogenic changes are astonishing. The few unspoilt areas are the national/state parks, and they are not that substantial in the grand scheme of things. Scary stuff.

We actually have more natural areas now in the US than a hundred years ago, whenever over half the population was involved in farming in one way or the other. Increased farming efficiency and the inability of smaller farms to compete with larger ones has meant that in many areas nature has reclaimed it.

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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by ineffableone » Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:52 pm

Mountainsquid wrote:
Boom40mm wrote:Yeah if you look over just the U.S. on Google earth the anthropogenic changes are astonishing. The few unspoilt areas are the national/state parks, and they are not that substantial in the grand scheme of things. Scary stuff.

We actually have more natural areas now in the US than a hundred years ago, whenever over half the population was involved in farming in one way or the other. Increased farming efficiency and the inability of smaller farms to compete with larger ones has meant that in many areas nature has reclaimed it.
And what was it like 600 years ago in N America before European colonization? 100 years ago was after the majority of damage was done in N America. You do realize that massive amounts of forest were cut and burnt when colonization happened.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Stercutus » Tue Jun 23, 2015 9:01 pm

Mountainsquid wrote:
Boom40mm wrote:Yeah if you look over just the U.S. on Google earth the anthropogenic changes are astonishing. The few unspoilt areas are the national/state parks, and they are not that substantial in the grand scheme of things. Scary stuff.

We actually have more natural areas now in the US than a hundred years ago, whenever over half the population was involved in farming in one way or the other. Increased farming efficiency and the inability of smaller farms to compete with larger ones has meant that in many areas nature has reclaimed it.
Yes, no, maybe.

Production way up, especially heavily subsidized corn.

Image

Acreage kind of a wash

Image

Small farms were never really competitive. Some are more successful than others even today. A lot of people don't farm anymore because they have other options.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Boom40mm » Tue Jun 23, 2015 9:18 pm

Mountainsquid wrote:
Boom40mm wrote:Yeah if you look over just the U.S. on Google earth the anthropogenic changes are astonishing. The few unspoilt areas are the national/state parks, and they are not that substantial in the grand scheme of things. Scary stuff.

We actually have more natural areas now in the US than a hundred years ago, whenever over half the population was involved in farming in one way or the other. Increased farming efficiency and the inability of smaller farms to compete with larger ones has meant that in many areas nature has reclaimed it.

Florida would disagree with you. But again, just take a look... look west from the Appalachian mountains until Colorado. Those squares aren't grid lines they are all plots of land that were once pristine and are now cultivated(and have been for some time). If a road runs through or around it, it is not a natural area as roads fragment animal habitat and provide an often lethal impediment. All the evidence of what I mentioned(human change to the environment) is there to see, regardless of what the situation was 100 years ago.

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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Supervisor42 » Tue Jun 23, 2015 9:44 pm

Stercutus wrote: Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction
.... Therefore, although biologists cannot say precisely how many species there are, or exactly how many have gone extinct in any time interval, we can confidently conclude that modern extinction rates are exceptionally high, that they are increasing, and that they suggest a mass extinction under way—the sixth of its kind in Earth’s 4.5 billion years of history.
i like how they just start off with "human-induced"; Like it's a given.
Well, it's global climate change from CO2 emissions! Any idiot can see that!
How about that list of species?
List any species and draw a cause and effect. Humans have hunted species to extinction. It's a simple case to make.
Details.
It's great to sit on the soapbox and proclaim that CO2 emissions and global climate change will cause us to all burn in hell.
Give us some evidence, any evidence, before convicting the entire human race. If things are so dire, it should be easy.
I'm not saying it isn't true, just give us something more than propaganda and rhetoric.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:31 pm

If you want to learn about the science, start with the IPCC.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Mountainsquid » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:44 pm

Boom40mm wrote:

Florida would disagree with you.
New England would disagree with you, and so would much of the Appalachians. They were moonscapes until the Feds ended up buying a lot of land and re-planting native trees under the CCC.
But again, just take a look... look west from the Appalachian mountains until Colorado. Those squares aren't grid lines they are all plots of land that were once pristine and are now cultivated(and have been for some time).
Those would be the larger farms that smaller farms aren't competitive with. Rocky soil on the East Coast is inferior to the Midwest and the northern Great Plains, as infrastructure in those areas got better there was a collapse in farming on the East Coast.
If a road runs through or around it, it is not a natural area as roads fragment animal habitat and provide an often lethal impediment.
Oh come on, this only true for a certain definition of "road". Death Valley, for instance, is criss-crossed with roads but no one would seriously argue that most of it isn't a wilderness area.

All the evidence of what I mentioned(human change to the environment) is there to see, regardless of what the situation was 100 years ago.
If you looked at a satellite map of the US from a hundred years ago and today, there would be substantially more forest canopy in the US.

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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Mountainsquid » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:48 pm

Europe, by the way, has had a similar trend:

Washington Post link with a neat animated gif.

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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by ineffableone » Tue Jun 23, 2015 11:20 pm

Mountainsquid wrote:If you looked at a satellite map of the US from a hundred years ago and today, there would be substantially more forest canopy in the US.
Again your using the 100 years mark, one that is quite convenient to cherry pick data. That was the beginning of the industrial revolution, when people left farms to move to urban jobs. However if you go back further, you see most of the forests were destroyed in the US during the first few generations of colonization. Almost the entire East coast was bald of trees in a very short amount of time. So yes trees have grown back since then, but the eco systems have not recovered from this massive destruction.

You keep citing more forests than 100 years ago. But we have not gotten back to the forests prior to European colonization even with the amount of regrowth. You also are only talking forests, how about prairie? There used to be vast grass lands that are now gone replaced with vast monocrop agriculture. This was a special eco system that is almost all gone. And how many swamps have been drained? Human effects are more than the forests.

You can try and argue that things are better now than 100 years ago, but that is not really true. What humans do to the earth now is massive and changes things dramatically.

In the US over 500 mountains have been topped. 1.2 million acres leveled. 2,000 streams destroyed. This has effects. Air and clouds go over these gaps where mountains used to be no longer dropping their rain and wind able to continue unslowed. Streams no longer feed into rivers. Ecosystems dramatically altered.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Boom40mm » Tue Jun 23, 2015 11:32 pm

Mountainsquid wrote:
Boom40mm wrote:

Florida would disagree with you.
New England would disagree with you, and so would much of the Appalachians. They were moonscapes until the Feds ended up buying a lot of land and re-planting native trees under the CCC.
But again, just take a look... look west from the Appalachian mountains until Colorado. Those squares aren't grid lines they are all plots of land that were once pristine and are now cultivated(and have been for some time).
Those would be the larger farms that smaller farms aren't competitive with. Rocky soil on the East Coast is inferior to the Midwest and the northern Great Plains, as infrastructure in those areas got better there was a collapse in farming on the East Coast.
If a road runs through or around it, it is not a natural area as roads fragment animal habitat and provide an often lethal impediment.
Oh come on, this only true for a certain definition of "road". Death Valley, for instance, is criss-crossed with roads but no one would seriously argue that most of it isn't a wilderness area.

All the evidence of what I mentioned(human change to the environment) is there to see, regardless of what the situation was 100 years ago.
If you looked at a satellite map of the US from a hundred years ago and today, there would be substantially more forest canopy in the US.
What point of your argument goes against my initial statement of how easily visible changes made by humans are if you scan google maps? Second point, who owns the farms is irrelevant to their effect on the environment and biodiversity. Only true for a certain definition of road? it appears you are stating a more specific circumstance in which it would not apply. http://www.lic.wisc.edu/glifwc/Polymet/ ... 201998.pdf Pages 212-216 for effects on fauna. If there is a road, it effects the area and surrounding species, more so if it is receives regular traffic.

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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by TacAir » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:24 am

IB4TZ.

This will not end well. Religious these kind of arguments rarely do.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Black Beard » Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:57 am

The only book I read that attempted to quantify environmental claims was Bjorn Lomberg's The Sceptical Environmentalist. It upset a lot of people. I lent my copy to someone who was in to green campaigning. He didn't like it either.

The IPCC reports are interesting. If you have a look at their first reports, that warned of dire temperature rises, they were wrong. The temperature increases haven't happened in the way they predicted.

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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by procyon » Wed Jun 24, 2015 6:00 am

Black Beard wrote:The IPCC reports are interesting. If you have a look at their first reports, that warned of dire temperature rises, they were wrong. The temperature increases haven't happened in the way they predicted.
Supervisor42 wrote:Give us some evidence, any evidence, before convicting the entire human race. If things are so dire, it should be easy.
Mountainsquid wrote:We actually have more natural areas now in the US than a hundred years ago,
And none of these refute the actual issue.
Species are being lost at a rate that, in a conservative - low balled - estimate, has sky rocketed far past historic benchmarks.

So saying that it isn't human induced, or that the temp isn't as high as some folks thought it would be - is like watching a patient die while saying "Hey, the knife wound and bullet wound aren't killing him, so it's ok..."
And saying we have more trees while the rest of the species drop away is like stating, "And the patient has really good electrolyte levels too..."

None of them change the basic fact.
Species are simply being obliterated at a rate that is only matched by a few times in this planets history. The numbers on that are very solid.
The fact you don't think that 'you' are the one killing the pt doesn't mean it isn't dying.
And our lives may be next somewhere down the line of dominoes.

So if nobody figures out why it is happening and just spends their time saying 'it's not my fault' - that may be a cold comfort for our children who find themselves to be the next domino...
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Black Beard » Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:12 am

Species have been coming and going since they first had life. It is natural selection. Where I live the reds quirrels have mostly gone because of the grey squirrels. It doesn't mean the apocylipse is upon us. It means I have to deal with a destructive new pest species.

I think that counting species is waste of time. You can have 100 of an animal and it doesn't count as extinct. There would be barely any difference to their environment if they disappeared. Also, over the last 300 years we have spread hundreds of species across the World. I can see several imported trees in my back garden.

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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by gundogs » Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:23 am

Mountainsquid wrote:
Boom40mm wrote:Yeah if you look over just the U.S. on Google earth the anthropogenic changes are astonishing. The few unspoilt areas are the national/state parks, and they are not that substantial in the grand scheme of things. Scary stuff.

We actually have more natural areas now in the US than a hundred years ago, whenever over half the population was involved in farming in one way or the other. Increased farming efficiency and the inability of smaller farms to compete with larger ones has meant that in many areas nature has reclaimed it.
Yep---that's sure true in my area

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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by ineffableone » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:05 am

Black Beard wrote:Species have been coming and going since they first had life. It is natural selection. Where I live the reds quirrels have mostly gone because of the grey squirrels. It doesn't mean the apocylipse is upon us. It means I have to deal with a destructive new pest species.

I think that counting species is waste of time. You can have 100 of an animal and it doesn't count as extinct. There would be barely any difference to their environment if they disappeared. Also, over the last 300 years we have spread hundreds of species across the World. I can see several imported trees in my back garden.
An extinction event is about the rate and percentage of life that dies off.

Yes life comes and goes. However there comes a point when if too much is disrupted the ecosystem collapses and can not support the complexities of life for many of the plants and animals. Also once you loos an eco system, you never regain the diversity that it once had. There have been experiments wiping out the entire animal life from islands, to see if they would repopulate in as complex an eco system. Nope. They came back simpler and with less buffer for damage to the interconnections.

It is all fine to say life comes and goes, but if we are in a 6th extinction, and yes science is taking this very seriously, then that means we could easily be part of that extinction. So we humans have a vested interest in mitigating the effects of species extinction.

What are the acceptable levels of species going extinct before things get too bad? I don't know but would say it sounds like a stupid thing to try and get to the bare minimum.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by ineffableone » Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:42 am

Figured I would drop a some videos to help explain for those who don't like to read the scientific papers but who might have time to watch a few videos.







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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Stercutus » Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:06 pm

Interesting, ok umm...

Ok first a few things- The Industrial Revolution was 1760-1840, not the the 1900s. The mass migration off of farms did not begin until the late 1930's mostly caused by dust bowl events. These and the Great Depression spurred the CCC initiatives that resulted in a lot of the recovery of land in the US.

Image

The IPCC is a terrible source for good science. It is more a political hacky sack than anything. Every annual report they have ever put out has been fraught with a number of errors and bad science. Even the writers of the report disown it from time to time. The problems vary greatly depending upon who is addressing the report from huge underestimations to huge overestimation to simple fabrications.

There really is not much point to arguing about the cause of the sixth mass extinction here at ZS. Although there is some flimsy evidence that maybe man is contributing to it a tiny fraction. This data set might be complete coincidence.

Image

I had not really intended this to be a debate on how we got here, merely an observation of where we are and what actions you might want to take personally should this event go to it's expected conclusion. That conclusion may be several generations away but the effects are immediate and in your face so you kind of have to think outside the box here.

I don't think anyone could argue that human activity has a had a net beneficial affect on the population of just about every other species on the planet.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by TheZone » Wed Jun 24, 2015 2:39 pm

Black Beard wrote:Species have been coming and going since they first had life. It is natural selection. Where I live the reds quirrels have mostly gone because of the grey squirrels. It doesn't mean the apocylipse is upon us. It means I have to deal with a destructive new pest species.

I think that counting species is waste of time. You can have 100 of an animal and it doesn't count as extinct. There would be barely any difference to their environment if they disappeared. Also, over the last 300 years we have spread hundreds of species across the World. I can see several imported trees in my back garden.
Yeah, pretty much.

While its a fun scary story, the simple fact is that a few species (humans & domesticated animals) have increased massively, so other species must give way.

In my are the deer and coyote populations have expanded so heavily that despite vastly loosened hunting rules the State must still employ full-time 'harvesters' to keep the population of the latter in check.

The environment is a living structure. You change the numbers here, it affects the numbers there.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by procyon » Thu Jun 25, 2015 2:41 am

TheZone wrote:
Black Beard wrote:Species have been coming and going since they first had life. It is natural selection. Where I live the reds quirrels have mostly gone because of the grey squirrels. It doesn't mean the apocylipse is upon us. It means I have to deal with a destructive new pest species.

I think that counting species is waste of time. You can have 100 of an animal and it doesn't count as extinct. There would be barely any difference to their environment if they disappeared. Also, over the last 300 years we have spread hundreds of species across the World. I can see several imported trees in my back garden.
Yeah, pretty much.

While its a fun scary story, the simple fact is that a few species (humans & domesticated animals) have increased massively, so other species must give way.

In my are the deer and coyote populations have expanded so heavily that despite vastly loosened hunting rules the State must still employ full-time 'harvesters' to keep the population of the latter in check.

The environment is a living structure. You change the numbers here, it affects the numbers there.
Mass extinctions don't mean that life just disappears. That seems to be a common misperception.
It is just that large numbers of species die off. When that happens, opportunistic species (disaster taxa) fill the gaps.
So just because forests disappeared in a particular mass extinction - doesn't mean that area turned into a desert (sometimes it did, but far from always).
It just means that there weren't any trees left.

And you see it all over.
In my area, you once saw quail everywhere. I haven't come across one hunting in a decade.
You also saw lots of fox squirrels along with greys. Now the fox squirrel population is going away more and more each year.
When I was a kid, at least a dozen different types of ducks would be seen on my ponds over the course of the year. Now it is just some mallards and Canada geese. I haven't seen a wood duck in a long time.
There also used to be beechnut trees and ash trees all over my land. They are all gone.

There is still lots of life out there. And species will move to fill gaps left.
But it doesn't take much to see the change in the number of species.
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Re: The Apocalypse is Well Under Way- Mass Extinction

Post by Stercutus » Fri Jun 26, 2015 2:45 pm

Mass extinctions don't mean that life just disappears. That seems to be a common misperception.
It is just that large numbers of species die off. When that happens, opportunistic species (disaster taxa) fill the gaps.
That is very true. I suppose so long as it is not happening to your species then there is not a whole lot to be concerned about. Humans are filling those gaps in numbers not seen much in all of Earth history. There is no evidence that any other species has ever dominated the planet in the way that humankind has.

Most people in the more developed countries only interact with an animal when they are eating it in a highly processed form or stroking it's head while the animal sits in a lap. If they all die off it might not change their world much.
You go 'round and around it
You go over and under
I go through

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