Some scary figures here which show the number of described species which are currently threatened. Even scarier is that we do not have a concrete estimate of the number of undescribed species. Therefore, we have no idea of the current extinction rate. Of course, due to survival of the fittest, there will always be extinctions. However it is believed by many scientists that the current rates of extinction are in fact higher than the normal or ‘background’ rate. The term ‘mass extinction’ is a pretty frightening one, but it will hopefully grab the attention of governments and policy makers, whose long-term commitment and funding is needed in the race to curb species losses.
Of all the species that have populated Earth at some time over the past 3.5 billion years, more than 95% have vanished — many of them in spectacular die-offs called mass extinctions. On that much, researchers can generally agree. Yet when it comes to taking stock of how much life exists today — and how quickly it will vanish in the future — uncertainty prevails.