Are we headed for a sixth mass extinction?

A mass extinction is an event in which the world very rapidly loses a large number of its living species. You’ve probably heard of the mass extinction that occurred sixty-five million years ago, when an asteroid crashed near Mexico and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. There have been four other mass extinctions in the last 500 million years, and each has resulted in the loss of at least 60% of living species. In a recent study, Professor Daniel Rothman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argues that human activities – specifically our inundating the atmosphere with carbon – may result in a sixth mass extinction.

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Inundate and Chill: The Fate of Microbes in Submarine Permafrost

Permafrost stores a lot of carbon, which is important in terms of climate change. However, as sea levels rise, permafrost can get covered up with water, which is a big change for the microbes that live in the permafrost. Depending on what the microbes in the permafrost are doing, the permafrost has the potential to start releasing that carbon that was previously stored. Scientists recently set out to find out what happens inside the permafrost when it ends up under the ocean, which can tell us more about the past and future of our planet.

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