Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Book: The Sixth Extinction: Elizabeth Kolbert

  1. I was watching the Daily Show from 2-18 with Author guest Elizabeth Kolbert who was talking about how the 5th extinction was an asteroid that wiped out all the land based  large dinosaurs about 60 million years ago. (I'm thinking that asteroid likely was from the planet that became the present asteroid belt when it was blown up by a thermonuclear war as the Soviets Proved with a probe they sent there in the 1970s). 

     However, now ms. Kolbert is talking about how the 6th extinction presently taking place here on earth is entirely caused by humans everywhere now on earth. She was mentioning the diversity in the tropics around the equator and how in the Andes for example, the vertical diversity might be only 100 feet in altitude between different kinds of plants. However, she said now a plant species would have to move 30 feet (either a day or week or month) to survive now so quickly is the world climate changing to new ones. So, because of this many species are going extinct very quickly now both plants and animals in regions especially in the tropics and the equator worldwide. The loss of diversity of plants and animals now every day near the equator around the world is very serious  ongoing right now she was saying.

    The Sixth Extinction -‎
    New from Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe.
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    What I remember about studying the 5th extinction in college was that 60 million years ago an asteroid created the gulf of Mexico when it hit there. This caused basically a "Nuclear winter" kind of scenario worldwide where all the plants and most large animals died from lack of food, good water and from freezing to death while the sun was occluded for a year or two from all the stuff in the atmosphere from the large asteroid that had hit. 
    When the atmosphere cleared after a few years only small things around the size of a large dog or smaller were left alive because they could hide in caves and stay warm enough to survive. All the large dinosaurs had perished from the cold, all the major plants dying from lack of sun etc. However, somehow things that lived in or migrated into the water survived somehow especially into the oceans. So, for example, sea elephants, sea lions and other air breathing ocean going creatures might have had legs but were forced into the ocean by the asteroid hitting and learned to adapt and change their legs to flippers so they could continue to live in the ocean and not die on the land.
    Over time land creatures that stayed on land slowly got larger and larger, especially the mammals like horses which were only dog sized 60 million years ago until we have the present diversity of species on land today which didn't really exist 60 million years ago in the same way then.

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