Evolution scientists in London warn of the spread of a global ?pest and weed? environment, with animals and plants such as rats, cockroaches and dandelions flourishing at the expense of more specialized wild species.

They say that in the next 5 million years, short-term evolution will favor species able to thrive in the margins of human settlements. They also warn that the decisions made in the next few decades will dictate the future course of evolution.

In a startling wake-up call, the group of international scientists compared the present mass extinction of species on earth to past mass extinctions. In the past, it took approximately 5 million years for biological diversity to reassert itself.

Dr. David Woodruff, of the University of California, says that between 3,000 and 30,000 of the earth?s estimated 10 million species are disappearing every year. ?We live at a geological instant when global rates of extinction are at an all-time high for the last 65 million years, and are increasing,? he says.

Scientists feel that the world is entering a new period of biological time, in which all parts of the planet are increasingly coming to resemble each other. ?The biosphere will have fewer species and be subject to more weed, pest and disease outbreaks?the new [habitats] will be more easily disturbed and invaded, and will have an aesthetically unappealing dullness,? says Woodruff.

We?ve noticed that the same kind of strip malls containing the same franchise stores seem to line the roads in the United States. When you exit any highway, you see the same familiar group of fast food restaurants. Recent travelers to Europe tell us that chain stores are invading those countries as well. Now we find out that animals and vegetation will soon go the same route. The world is rapidly becoming a far less interesting place.

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