You will be doing a bit of research to examine the evidence for and against the modern earth being in the middle of the sixth mass extinction. Tying in to this is the idea of human-induced climate change.
Remember, a mass extinction event occurs when there is a widespread and relatively rapid loss of species, or higher-level organisms, on the earth. Approximately 98% of all species that have ever existed on the earth are now extinct, so a loss of a handful is not anything new. However, when the rate of extinction is much higher than the rate of speciation, or creation of new species, then we enter into a mass extinction event.
Using only reliable national and international news sources, along with scientific journal articles, research the current rate of extinction on the earth. Many websites will post sensationalist headlines, such as Earth to Die in Current Biodiversity Crisis, to get your attention. Be aware that many of these websites are trying to draw traffic to earn money, and they are not basing their evidence on actual facts, so be wary as you search, and always back up any opinions you have with facts you have learned in your research.
Questions that need to be answered as a discussion
In your opinion, are we currently in the middle of the sixth mass extinction? List at least three pieces of evidence to back up your claim.
How do you think our current biodiversity crisis will affect humans?
Should we worry about climate change? Why or why not? What worries you the most and what should we do to mitigate?
You will sometimes hear the argument that extra CO2 is good for plants, crops, and trees because it will increase photosynthesis. Using evidence from your research, choose a side to this argument and briefly give an explanation.