Published: April 1, 2014
Scientists project that nearly 20,000 species across the globe are at a high risk of extinction, and that within the next 300 years, some 75 percent of all mammals could completely disappear from Earth. Experts say that we are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction of life on earth. And what distinguishes it from the previous five extinctions is that it is being caused by humans.
This Earth Day episode of our show will look at how Americans have grappled with the idea of extinction. When did we first realize that species could go extinct? How did Darwin’s theory of natural selection impact our understanding of what creatures survived or died? To what extent did earlier extinctions shape the emergence of today’s environmentalism? And, how have ideas about biological extinction factored into American thinking about human cultures — and about humanity-as-a-whole?
Help us shape this show! Do you worry about human impact on extinction? Were you obsessed with dinosaurs or other extinct animals as a kid? How should we decide what to save and what not to save from the brink of extinction? Share your stories, ideas, and questions below.