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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

March 8, 2010

FOR FIRST TIME, EXTINCTION OUTPACING EVOLUTION

GUARDIAN, UK - For the first time since the dinosaurs disappeared, humans are driving animals and plants to extinction faster than new species can evolve, one of the world's experts on biodiversity has warned.

Conservation experts have already signaled that the world is in the grip of the "sixth great extinction" of species, driven by the destruction of natural habitats, hunting, the spread of alien predators and disease, and climate change.

However until recently it has been hoped that the rate at which new species were evolving could keep pace with the loss of diversity of life.

Simon Stuart, chair of the Species Survival Commission for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature - the body which officially declares species threatened and extinct - said that point had now "almost certainly" been crossed.

"Measuring the rate at which new species evolve is difficult, but there's no question that the current extinction rates are faster than that; I think it's inevitable," said Stuart.

The IUCN created shock waves with its major assessment of the world's biodiversity in 2004, which calculated that the rate of extinction had reached 100-1,000 times that suggested by the fossil records before humans.


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