New geological age similar to 65 million year old mass extinction event

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Canberra, March 31 : A leading environmental scientist has suggested that an unprecedented climatic change is creating a new geological age, which is similar to the mass extinction event which wiped out the dinosaurs and other species 65 million years ago.

"The planet is already amid a "human-induced mass extinction event" which is defining a new geological age known as the Anthropocene," said Professor Will Steffen, director of the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies at Canberra's Australian National University.

According to the scientist, in 2005, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment published a report on the changes in species diversity and found the current rate of species loss is higher than the background rate inferred in the fossil record.

"Another 10-30 per cent of birds, mammals and amphibians are currently threatened with extinction," said Steffen.

"This rapid rate in the loss of species diversity is similar in intensity to the event around 65 million years ago which wiped out the dinosaurs and other species," he added.

Another major reason for concern is the fact that by damning nearly all of the world's major rivers, had left 75 per cent of the world's fisheries exploited or depleted.

"The human impact has been pronounced in Australia, due to the highly variable climate, unique wildlife and poor soils," quoted Steffen as saying.

According to Steffen, human history is littered with examples of civilisations that have collapsed because of their inability to adjust to environmental change - such as the Mayans in Meso-America, the Norse colonies in southern Greenland and the Akkadian civilisation, which was located in what is now Syria.

"With no one sure what the tipping point was, the best course of action was to mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible," he said.

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