Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Holy Shit, Mass Extinction!

Meteor Impact

Mass extinction is, you might (very correctly) assume, a pretty bad thing. I mean, every mass extinction so far has paved the way for a new form of dominant life on Earth, so there are some silver linings. We're here because of mass extinction.

But still, an event where over 50% of the species on Earth have been wiped out can only be called a catastrophe. This has happened on at least five occasions on the geologic time scale. The worst of them was the Permian-Triassic Event over 250 million years ago.
Extinction Chart
This chart is the visual equivalent of jargon, but the Event in question is the highest blue peak.

In that event, up to 96% of the species on Earth were completely eliminated. While there are several theories as to the cause of this disaster, it's nearly impossible to tell for certain what happened. Maybe a large meteor struck the planet or a supervolcano erupted and kicked up enough dust to choke out the majority of life. Maybe a massive, cross-species plague swept through every living thing. Maybe the atmosphere simply changed and most life couldn't catch up.

The point is, shit died. A lot. And that was just the worst Mass Extinction Event. There have been several others. The most famous was the one that finished off the dinosaurs.
It's not like they were even phoning it in by the end. T-Rex was one of the last surviving species

The criteria for a mass extinction is that roughly half the species on the planet must have been destroyed within a short period of time. A short period of time on a geologic scale, mind you, means "within a million years or so."
Or, "Significantly longer than the entirety of human history

So when I tell you that Earth has lost 50 percent of its wildlife in the past forty-five freaking years, you should know that this means serious business. We are absolutely in the middle of a mass extinction. Right now. And we are absolutely the cause. Whatever your feelings are about the environment, there is no way that this will end up being anything but terrible for humans.

Because "mass extinction" really is just as terrifying as it sounds.

Holy shit.

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