Is the end near? Scientists at Duke University say the world is on the brink of its sixth great extinction, since certain species of plants and animals are now dying out at least 1,000 times faster than they did before humans came into existence.
The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, measured the the rate at which species are disappearing from Earth. In 1995, the researchers found that the pre-human rate of extinctions was roughly 1. Now, that rate is about 100 to 1,000.
Stuart Pimm, the study’s lead author, said habitat loss is mostly to blame for the increasing death rates. As humans continue to alter and destroy more land, animals and plants are increasingly being displaced from their natural habitats. Climate change is also a factor, he added.
“Whether we avoid it or not will depend on our actions,” Pimm warned.