In This Mass Extinction, the Enemy Is Us

The New Yorker magazine quotes Fisher professor of natural history Andrew Knoll on the current mass extinction. The enemy is us.

Writing in the May 25 issue of the New Yorker, author Elizabeth Kolbert quotes Fisher professor of natural history Andrew Knoll on the subject of mass extinctions. Kolbert cites recent, worldwide losses of certain species of frogs, and also the decimation of bat populations due to a fungus, as examples of a larger phenomenon now under way: the mass extinction, attributable to human causes, of as many as 50 percent of the species of plants and animals worldwide by the end of this century. Kolbert asks Knoll to compare the current loss of species with past extinction events. When an asteroid struck the Yucatán, he tells the magazine, "it was one terrible afternoon. But it was a short-term event, and then things started getting better. Today, it's not like you have a stress and the stress is relieved and recovery starts. It gets bad and then it keeps being bad, because the stress doesn't go away. Because the stress is us."

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