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Posted Sat Apr 25 2009: from Mother Jones:
Gone: Mass Extinction and the Hazards of Earth's Vanishing Biodiversity
...Throughout the 20th century the causes of extinction -- habitat degradation, overexploitation, agricultural monocultures, human-borne invasive species, human-induced climate change -- amplified exponentially, until now in the 21st century the rate is nothing short of explosive. The World Conservation Union's Red List-- a database measuring the global status of Earth's 1.5 million scientifically named species -- tells a haunting tale of unchecked, unaddressed, and accelerating biocide. When we hear of extinction, most of us think of the plight of the rhino, tiger, panda, or blue whale. But these sad sagas are only small pieces of the extinction puzzle. The overall numbers are terrifying. Of the 40,168 species that the 10,000 scientists in the World Conservation Union have assessed, 1 in 4 mammals, 1 in 8 birds, 1 in 3 amphibians, 1 in 3 conifers and other gymnosperms are at risk of extinction. The peril faced by other classes of organisms is less thoroughly analyzed, but fully 40 percent of the examined species of planet Earth are in danger, including up to 51 percent of reptiles, 52 percent of insects, and 73 percent of flowering plants.
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