The Great Tree of Life: Chapter 6 - Fate of the Tree of Life

Elsevier, Douglas E. Soltis, Pamela S. Soltis, Chapter 6 - Fate of the Tree of Life, Editor(s): Douglas E. Soltis, Pamela S. Soltis, The Great Tree of Life, Academic Press, 2019, Pages 117-150, ISBN 9780128125533,
Douglas E.Soltis, Pamela S.Soltis

The Tree of Life is in peril due to human population growth and activities. There have been five previous mass extinctions in the history of our planet all caused by natural events including meteor impact and volcanic eruptions. Welcome to the early stages of the sixth mass extinction on Earth. The causes of this mass extinction are clearly the result of human activity with extinction rates 1000 times that which is considered a normal background rate and rising; that equates to the loss of scores of species each day. This sixth mass extinction will have serious consequences for our own species whether it be the loss of species with medicinal value (imagine the loss of a plant or animal with cancer-curing chemical properties—a plant that could have saved the lives of your children or grandchildren) or the loss of close relatives of crops impacting crop improvement. Ecosystem function will also be impacted with downstream impact on clean air and clean water.