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Science + Tech

June 06, 2020 - Futurity

Extinctions in next 20 years may near 20th-century total

Extinctions in next 20 years may near 20th-century total
Sumatran rhinoceros and youngFile Photo / © Photabulous!

The loss of land-based animals is accelerating, researchers report. Their analysis of thousands of vertebrate species reveals that extinction rates are likely much faster than previously thought.

The researchers call for immediate global action, such as a ban on the wildlife trade, to slow the sixth mass extinction.

In 2015, Paul Ehrlich cowrote a study declaring the world’s sixth mass extinction was underway. Five years later, Ehrlich, emeritus professor of population studies at Stanford University and an emeritus senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, and his colleagues have a grim update. The extinction rate is likely much higher than previously thought and is eroding nature’s ability to provide vital services to people.

Their new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates the wildlife trade and other human impacts have wiped out hundreds of species and pushed many more to the brink of extinction at an unprecedented rate.

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