Research Highlights: Evidence Shows Sixth Mass Extinction Is In Progress

Evidence Shows Sixth Mass Extinction Is In Progress

  • The history of Earth’s biodiversity already went five Mass Extinctions.
  • All previous mass extinction events were all caused by natural phenomena.
  • Scientists claim that the Sixth Mass Extinction may be in progress, but this time caused by humans.
  • There are numerous signals suggesting the presence of biodiversity crisis which includes increasing extinction and decreasing abundances.
  • However, some speculated that these signals could not be the Sixth Mass Extinction.
  • Scientists usually use the IUCN Red List to support their stance on extinction.
  • Opponents of the theory of Sixth Mass Extinction argued that the rate of species loss is the same as the background extinction rate or the normal extinction rate.
  • Proponents suggest that the IUCN Red List is significantly biased and that the IUCN Red List mostly contains birds and mammals, and only a small portion of invertebrates have been evaluated against conservation criteria.
  • Proponents said that if we include estimates of the true number of invertebrate extinctions, species loss rate will exceed the background rate suggesting that the Sixth Mass Extinction is underway.
  • Researchers reviewed extinction rate according to realms.
  • Marine organisms face significant threats; however, marine biota crisis has not reached the same level as the non-marine biota crisis.
  • Island species have suffered more compared to continental species.
  • Although there are clues that plants may have suffered lower extinction rate, plants face similar conservation biases as with invertebrates.
  • Other extinction crisis believers thought that these evidences could be a new trajectory of evolution because humans are part of the natural world.
  • Humans are the only species capable of manipulating the Earth on a grand scale, and they let the current crisis to happen.
  • Numerous conservation efforts have been implemented at different levels; however, most are not species oriented and specific measures to protect every extant species individually are simply inconvenient.
  • Researchers encourage the nurturing of the innate human appreciation of biodiversity, but assert strongly that biodiversity is disappearing at an unprecedented rate.
  • With the mounting crisis, scientists should embrace the practices of preventive archaeology and document as many species before they go extinct.
  • Without crisis intervention, we could pave the way for the Earth to carry on its unfortunate trajectory towards a Sixth Mass Extinction.


Cowie, R. H., Bouchet, P., & Fontaine, B. (2022). The Sixth Mass Extinction: fact, fiction or speculation?. Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 10.1111/brv.12816. Advance online publication.

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