Scientific misunderstanding about the nature and consequences of the sixth mass extinction has led to confusion among policy-makers and the public. Except this time, we have no one but ourselves to blame. We’re on the threshold of a sixth. What is the sixth mass extinction? The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is an ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch (with the more recent time sometimes called Anthropocene) as a result of human activity. Scientists agree that there have been five mass extinctions in the past 600 million years ([ 1 ][1]). A Sixth Extinction? (1, 2). It's happening now -- much faster than previously expected -- and it's entirely our fault, according to a new study. By Ann Gibbons March 2, 2011 for Science Magazine Earth's creatures are on the brink of a sixth mass extinction, comparable to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. Are We in the Middle of a Sixth Mass Extinction? Whether we are now indeed in a sixth mass extinction depends to some extent on the true value of this rate. Surely we’ve earned our place in the pantheon next to the greatest ecological catastrophes of all time: the so-called Big Five mass extinctions of Earth history. We assess, using extremely conservative assumptions, whether human activities are causing a mass extinction. The answer appears to be, "Not yet." These events are known as the Big Five mass extinctions, and all signs suggest we are now on the precipice of a sixth. David McNew/Getty Images. Otherwise, it's difficult to compare Earth's situation today with the past. The sixth mass extinction, explained. We are on the verge of a sixth mass extinction. Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction At the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, Smithsonian paleontologist Doug Erwin took the podium to address a ballroom full of geologists on the dynamics of mass extinctions and power grid failures—which, he … That's why a natural history GCSE is so important. Whether we are now indeed in a sixth mass extinction depends to some extent on the true value of this rate. The end of the Second World War brought an unmatched period of … An estimated 1% of species on earth have gone extinct since 1500, and a mass extinction event would take tens of thousands of years if this trend were to continue. In her recent book Resurrection Science, journalist M.R. However, there's a steep decline in populations of many animal species, from frogs and fish to tigers. Although scientists also agree that Earth is now suffering the sixth mass extinction, they disagree about its consequences. "The field of conservation biology is a crisis discipline," she wrote, suggesting that the field is inclined to forecast doom and gloom in order to promote needed environmental protections. The sixth mass extinction is as insidious as it is calamitous. Unfortunately, this is not the only rapid change we’ve caused. Certainly, species go extinct every day. But this estimated rate is highly uncertain, ranging between 0.1 and 2.0 extinctions per million species-years. Whether we are now indeed in a sixth mass extinction depends to some extent on the true value of this rate. We are rapidly approaching a loss of diversity similar to that seen during mass extinctions. Sometime in the near geological future, the landscape of life on earth as we know it will be transformed. Here are seven signs that they could be right. Today, many scientists believe we are on the cusp of a sixth mass extinction which could wipe out most life on Earth as we know it. 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