Human society and the global ecosystem are at a critical point in time, facing climate and biodiversity crises. According to a recent analysis, the sixth mass extinction of wildlife on Earth is accelerating. More than 500 species of land animals are on the brink of extinction and are likely to be lost within 20 years, a number equivalent to the number lost over the entire last century.
Earth ecosystems have been through severe extinction crises in the past. There have been five mass extinction events during the last 450 million years, each destroying 70-95% of the species of plants, animals and microorganisms that previously existed. Causes of these events included massive volcanic eruptions, depletion of ocean oxygen or collision with an asteroid. Following each event, it took millions of years to regain the numbers of species comparable to those before the extinction event.
What can our understanding of these systems’ ecology, evolution and history teach us about surviving the current situation? We invited two scientists from the California Academy of Sciences to discuss this topic. Scott Sampson, executive director and a dinosaur paleontologist, and Peter Roopnarine, the Curator of Geology, whose research focuses on understanding the evolution of ecological systems.
Moderator: Franck Marchis, SETI
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