Species Extinction On Earth

Larry Klaes (lklaes@bbn.com)
Fri, 06 Aug 1999 18:10:54 -0400

>From: Cybertyger@aol.com
>Date: Fri, 6 Aug 1999 15:25:25 EDT
>Subject: Species Extinction On Earth
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>Botanists Warn of Mass Extinctions
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>An extinction crisis is occurring in both terrestrial and marine
>ecosystems. Current trends indicate we may lose as much as 2/3 of
>many mammal, butterfly, plant species by the end of the next century.
>5% of the World's rainforest is expected to remain by the year 2050,
>and vast areas of ocean are already becoming dead zones. It is
>difficult to imagine a program to address these issues that is
>comprehensive enough.
>Title: Botanists at U.S. meeting warn of mass extinctions
>Source: Reuters
>Status: Copyright 1999, contact source for permission to reprint
>Date: August 2, 1999
>ST. LOUIS, Aug 2
>(Reuters) - Human beings are causing the extinction of species on the
>order of the mass extinctions that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million
>years ago, botanists warned on Monday.
>``We are predicting the extinction of about two-thirds of all bird,
>mammal, butterfly and plant species by the end of the next century,
>based on current trends,'' said Peter Raven, President of
>the International Botanical Congress, which is meeting in St. Louis
>this week.
>At the current pace of habitat destruction, only 5 percent of the
>world's tropical rain forest will be left by the middle of the next
>century. The most species loss is occurring in the tropics of South
>America, Africa and Asia, and with it the chance to discover new foods
>and medicines, Raven said.
>``Hundreds of species are becoming extinct when only one should,'' he
>said, based on his readings of the fossil record and estimates of
>species loss. ``The projected rate of extinction for the next 100
>years is equal to 65 million years ago.''
>A widely held theory holds that the dinosaurs and many other species
>were wiped out 65 million years ago when an asteroid slammed into
>Earth, casting up a cloud that cut off the sun's rays and halting
>plant photosynthesis -- one of five mass extinction to destroy a
>significant portion of life on Earth.
>This time, the destruction is piecemeal as mankind encroaches on the
>natural environment and leaves only fragments of forest that cannot
>sustain many species, Raven said.
>The oceans too are under siege, with vast ``dead zones'' where
>oxygenated water and life are scarce, other botanists said at the
>In an assessment of the ``human footprint on Earth,'' researcher
>Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State University and two colleagues from
>Stanford University presented their findings that the oceans are being
>altered by man as well as the land.
>There are now some 50 ``dead zones'' in the world's coastal areas, the
>largest in the Gulf of Mexico caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus
>flowing down the Mississippi River.
>``We're degrading the water, changing our coastlines, filling in our
>estuaries, and changing our rivers,'' Lubchenco said in a statement.
>``We're witnessing many signals of the problems that will result from
>these changes, including toxic algal blooms, coral bleaching and
>sudden disappearance of fish from key fisheries,'' she said.