09 Oct
Could the Earth Be Headed for Another Mass Extinction? Could the Earth Be Headed for Another Mass Extinction?

Could the Earth Be Headed for Another Mass Extinction?

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Throughout Earth’s existence, mass extinction events have wiped out entire species, potentially changing the ecosystem permanently. In fact, scientists name five mass extinction events, with the most recent being the wipeout of dinosaurs approximately 66 million years ago. The cause of such extinctions has been proposed as asteroids, the Ice Age, and oxygen depletion in the ocean, but in some cases, the cause is unknown.

A possibly upcoming extinction event has experts reviewing those five previous incidents to see what they have in common. With each extinction event, the normal cycling of carbon was disrupted, either in the atmosphere or in the oceans. This brings concerns from scientists who are already well aware of the danger rising carbon emissions pose to our planet. The question is, could this changing environment cause a carbon jolt that could cause the sixth mass extinction?

This discussion was initiated by MIT professor Daniel Rothman, who wrote about it in a paper titled Thresholds of Catastrophe in the Earth System. His theory is that one of two thresholds are crossed prior to a change in the carbon cycle. If one of those thresholds are crossed more quickly than the global ecosystem can adapt to the change, a mass extinction can occur.

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Read 1856 times Last modified on Wednesday, 27 September 2017 07:23
Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and novelist whose work has appeared on,, the Intuit Small Business Blog, and many others. She is the Simon & Schuster author of 8 children's books, including the Piper Morgan chapter book series, 25 Roses, and 30 Days of No Gossip.

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