We’re on the brink of the next great mass extinction–in fact, we’re right in the middle of it.. Past extinction events have wiped out 75% of the animal species on the Earth within a short period of time, and it’s still going on, and many Chinese medicines are partly responsible for this, since they use body parts, like rhino horn, from some endangered species.

Mass extinctions have occurred 5 times in the past 540 million years, and the last one occurred 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs were wiped out. If this timetable continues, the next great extinction (the sixth one) will happen during the next 300 to 2,000 years. Will we be among the next animals to disappear?

And it’s not just animals, it’s plants, and if plants disappear, it won’t be long before we follow, because loss of plant biodiversity disrupts the fundamental services that ecosystems provide to humanity. Plant communities–threatened by development, invasive species, climate change, and other factors–provide humans with food, help purify water supplies, generate oxygen, and supply raw materials for building, clothing, paper, and other products–in other words, the basis for human civilization. In LiveScience.com, Stephanie Pappas quotes paleontologist Anthony Barnosky as saying, "Everyone knows that we now lose many species a year. The question is, ‘Is the pace of extinction we’re seeing today over these short time intervals usual or unusual?’"

She quotes paleontologist David Jablonski as saying, "If the fossil record tells us one thing, it’s that when we kick over into a mass extinction regime, results are extreme, they’re irreversible and they’re unpredictable. Factors that promote success and survival during normal times seem to melt away."

We know the dinosaur age was ended by an asteroid, but we’re not sure what caused the other 4 extinctions. However, we DO know what’s causing this one: human beings. This means that we still have some time to stop it. Pappas quotes biologist Elizabeth Ferrer as saying, "It’s bittersweet, because we’re showing that we have this crisis. But we still have time to fix this."

In a final note, Pappas quotes ecologist Jarrett Byrnes as saying, "Species extinction is happening now, and it’s happening quickly. And unfortunately, our resources are limited. This means we’re going to have to prioritize our conservation efforts, and to do that, scientists have to start providing concrete answers about the numbers and types of species that are needed to sustain human life. If we don’t produce these estimates quickly, then we risk crossing a threshold that we can’t come back from."

We just hope that unknowncountry.com isn’t part of the 6th extinction! But we feel we have to deliver a real warning to all our readers and listeners: If we don’t get more support from you, we will be nothing more than a memory in the future (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show). So if you really do love us, follow the right path: Subscribe today–and beat a path to our door in Nashville in June!  

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