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We Are Living Through An Extinction Event Which Dwarfs The Dinosaur Die-Off

Updated on May 25, 2009
It was common to catch fish as big as people in the 1950s Florida.
It was common to catch fish as big as people in the 1950s Florida.

 The ten-year Census of Marine Life has shown that since humans began large scale ocean fishing approximately a thousand years ago, we have managed to decimate the level of marine life.

Poul Holm, a professor of history at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland stated that "we now have evidence of an order-of-magnitude decline in species, not just in well-studied regions like Europe and North America, but in all the major regions of the globe."

Canadian school kids are taught that John Cabot's 15th century crew caught fish in Newfoundland with only a basket. The historical records of that day show that the Grand Banks, off the coast of the Canadian maritimes and New England states was so thick with cod that the surface of the sea looked like it was alive.

University of New Hampshire researcher Andy Rosenberg has uncovered evidence that schooners would land 70,000 tonnes of cod a year in the 1860s in the Gulf of Maine alone. A fully mechanised fleet now lands barely 3,000 tonnes.

Lobster in New England was so plentiful in those days that it was spread on fields as fertilizer. Prison inmates rioted because they tired of being fed lobster every day.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher Loren McClenachan compared photos taken by sport fishermen of their catches at the same Florida dock. Photos from the 1950s depict thirteen groups of trophy reef fish averaging 43.8 pounds and six and a half feet long. Today, not only have some species disappeared, but 2007 trophy fish had an average weight of five pounds and a mean length of one foot.

The census seems to indicate that in a thousand years we have managed to cut down the number of sea animals to one tenth of what it was. This applies not just to the number of species, but also to the overall populations: a head count of the oceans.

This ongoing extinction event is not just limited to the seas. Based on current trends, an estimated 34,000 plants and 5,200 animal species including one in eight of world's bird species face extinction. It's quite likely that within the lifetime of many people reading this Hub, a quarter of all existing species will be gone.

I hope we're not one of them...

Not only is this data something to think about the next time you're chowing down on a piping hot platter of fish & chips, but it is very interesting to correlate this information with the fossil record of the numerous massive extinctions that have occurred on this planet.

The ridiculous, yet widely believed (by gullible people) theory of an asteroid impact wiping out the dinosaurs in the blink of an eye 65 million years ago has finally been permanently discredited. It has now been proven that the dinosaurs survived 300,000 years past the meteor impact. It wasn't a sudden die off; it turned out to be a slow lingering death over 300 millennia.

If we do the math we find out that the death rate leading to extinction of the dinosaurs was 1/3 of one percent per millennium. Yet in the last millennium alone, we have managed to extinguish 90% of the life in the seas and at least 25% of all life on the planet. If we take the latter figure alone, we are currently living in an extinction that is 75 times greater than that which wiped out T Rex and his friends.

The profoundly absurd facet of all this is that we don't even realize it. We are sitting in our cubicles, with our noses pressed to the computer screens, our lifeblood dripping down our broadband cables, and all around us the fastest extinction in the history of the planet is occurring. Not only are we doing nothing to stop it, there is effectively nothing we can do to stop it. Even if every single man, woman and child on earth were suddenly teleported to another planet, the extinction event would continue for several more centuries, just on the damage we've already caused.

Ah, but we have far more important things to think about. Like... when is the release date for that new Twilight movie sequel?


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    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Oh... those 100! :) I have 20 posted, am just finishing up a looooong series of about 40 more and I have NO CLUE what I'm going to do about the other 40! :)

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Silly billy! you have a big banner saying 100 hubs in 30 days, how are you doing?

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 8 years ago from Toronto

      Let's see... which numbers do you mean?

      My age: Not 100 yet, but gettin' close! :)

      The temp outside: It's finally warming up... probably another 20 until 100 F. :)

      My Hubscore on this Hub: A bit early for that. But I had 6 Hubs score 100 yesterday. :)

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Oh so sad, I feel responsible as you know how the brits love their fish and chips! How are your numbers looking. Anywhere near the 100 mark yet?