This is from The Australian newspaper - you can read the full article here The story leaves me feeling despondent and strangely, for me, mute.
Mass species extinction 'is under way'
October 03, 2008
PARIS: Earth's animal and plant species are vanishing at unprecedented rates, evidence that the planet is facing a tsunami of mass extinction, experts gathering for a global conservation conference have warned.
Whether through habitat loss, pollution, hunting, or indirectly by global warming, humans are squarely to blame for what may be the first major die-off in 65 million years, they say.
From Sunday, more than 8000 ministers, UN officials, NGOs, scientists and business chiefs will brainstorm for 10 days in the Spanish city of Barcelona on how to brake this loss and steer the world onto a path of sustainable development.
The World Conservation Congress, held every four years, will also release an update on Monday of the famous Red List on biodiversity, deemed the global standard for conservation monitoring.
“The evidence is overwhelming - and we have really good data now - that what we are seeing is probably a mass extinction,” the sixth in 450 million years, said Michael Hoffman, a mammal expert at IUCN who worked extensively on the Red List.
The current pace of dieoff is 100 to 1000 times higher than the so-called “background rate” of extinction - the average rate, over millions of years, at which species bite the dust.