New Study Offers a Surprising Timeline For Earth's Sixth Mass Extinction
According to calculations done by a climate scientist at Tohoku University in Japan
the current mass extinction event is not expected to be as devastating as the previous five. Certainly not for several more centuries.
Earth has lost the majority of its species on numerous occasions over the past 540 million years in a relatively small geologic time period.
These are referred to as major extinction events, and they frequently occur right after a climate change occurs
whether it results from extremely high or extremely low temperatures brought on by asteroids or volcanic activity, respectively.
When Kunio Kaiho attempted to quantify the relationship between the stability of Earth's average surface temperature and its biodiversity,
he discovered a primarily linear relationship. The extent of extinction increases with temperature change.
The greatest mass extinctions during global cooling episodes happened when temperatures dropped by roughly 7°C.
However, Kaiho discovered that during times of global warming, the largest mass extinctions happened at about 9°C of warming.
That is significantly higher than earlier predictions, which indicated that a temperature increase of 5.2°C would cause a significant marine mass extinction on par with the previous "big five."
To put that in perspective, contemporary global warming is projected to raise surface temperatures by as much as 4.4°C by the end of the century.
Under the worst case, Kaiho asserts that the Anthropocene won't experience 9°C global warming until at least 2500.
As a result of climate change, many species are already going extinct on land and in the sea, although Kaiho does not anticipate the same number of losses as in the past.
However, species are at risk for many reasons than just the severity of climate change. The speed at which it happens is crucial.
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