Originally posted by WWC
* By the years 2010 over 1,000,000 animals (insects included) will be exticnt.
Granted, we are in the midst of a mass extinction, and this one is unique as there has never been a mass extinction that was accelerated by a single species.
However, the Earth has seen 5 mass extinctions before, and, outside of anthropogenic forces, extinction or giving rise to a new species is a natural part of speciation. Afterall, 99.9% of all organisms that ever
lived on Earth are now extinct. In the End-Permian period (250mya), 96% of every species at that time went extinct in a mass extinction.
The current rate of loss is unprecedented in the history of Earth. Loss is occurring even before we have documented the extent of biodiversity (only about 20% of the current world species complement have been described).
In E.O. Wilson's excellent exercise in extrapolation, it was suggested that the background extinction rate (rate at which extinction occurs in the absence of anthropogenic influence and excluding mass extinctions) is 17-27,000 species/year.
In the human time scale, species losses are irrevocable, however, on a geological scale biodiversity may rapidly recover.
Of course the first step towards us humans being able to witness said recovery is to clean up our acts and eliminate these anthropogenic influences, and of course, this can only be achieved through education.