Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mass Extinctions - Making History with Ran Levi

Israel's most popular podcast is עושים היסטוריה! עם רן לוי (Making History with Ran Levi), about the history of science. The latest issue was yet again a great one, this time about Mass Extinctions. (article)

If you put aside the finer distinction between what can be called mass extinctions and less massive extinctions, you will have to accept, based on the geological record, there must have been around 5 mass extinctions and some 20 minor extinctions. These are waves of loss of species in a relatively (geologically) short period of time. The podcast enters into discussing the most accepted theories of how and why the mass extinctions occurred, leaving it as open-ended as things stand, even in main stream.

The relevance of the subject is poignant. Today species are going extinct at a rate that is beyond a geological eye blink. Climate change and pollution, that is, us human beings, seem to be the major causes of this. Yet, in the accepted theories about previous extinctions, we never accused any species within the system itself. So, in how far is the current extinction different or similar?

More Making History with Ran Levi:
Making History with Ran Levi - עושים היסטוריה! עם רן לוי,
From Pavlov to Milgram,
A history of pandemics,
Surviving the atom bomb,
Robert Heinlein.

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