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Extinctions during human era worse than thought
Date:9/2/2014

correct (in the aggregate, if not always for every species group).

All three data approaches together yielded a normal background extinction rate squarely in the order of 0.1 extinctions per million species per year.

A Human Role

There is little doubt among the scientists that humans are not merely witnesses to the current elevated extinction rate. This paper follows a recent one in Science , authored by Pimm, Joppa, and other colleagues, that tracks where species are threatened or confined to small ranges around the globe. In most cases, the main cause of extinctions is human population growth and per capita consumption, although the paper also notes how humans have been able to promote conservation.

The new study, Pimm said, emphasizes that the current extinction rate is a more severe crisis than previously understood.

"We've known for 20 years that current rates of species extinctions are exceptionally high," said Pimm, president of the conservation nonprofit organization SavingSpecies. "This new study comes up with a better estimate of the normal background rate how fast species would go extinct were it not for human actions. It's lower than we thought, meaning that the current extinction crisis is much worse by comparison."


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Contact: David Orenstein
david_orenstein@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

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