Livestock and the Sixth Mass Extinction

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Is the sixth mass extinction already upon us? Scientists from Stanford, Berkeley, Princeton and UNAM University say it is. In this video, Dr. Sofia Pineda Ochoa discusses this alarming finding, as well as the destructive role that livestock plays in the looming crisis and the urgent actions that scientists must be taken to avoid ecosystem collapse.

We originally posted this video in July 2015, shortly after this alarming report was published in the journal Scientific Advances. We have since updated the video and re-posted it now (as of April 2016).

The first part of the transcript is included below for reference, and the full transcript (which is too long to have here) is available on our website, along with sources and credits, at this link:

[The following transcript is an approximation of the audio in video. To hear the audio and see the accompanying visuals, please play the video.]


Hi, I’m Dr. Sofia Pineda Ochoa with Meat Your Future. Is our species already the “walking dead”? According to a report authored by scientists from Stanford University, Berkeley, Princeton and UNAM University, we are likely facing the sixth mass extinction in our planet’s history.

This beautiful planet where we live has been around about 4.5 billion years, and, in those years, it has faced five mass extinctions thus far. The last one was about 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs disappeared. All of the previous mass extinctions have been caused by natural phenomena, like meteors and volcanic eruptions.

But, it now looks like we are facing what could be the sixth mass extinction, and, unlike the previous five, this one is entirely man-made — caused by human activities like deforestation and overfishing. Species are disappearing and going extinct forever at a rate of 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than normal.

And the experts think this will affect humans as well. They pointed out that, “using extremely conservative assumptions” which “likely underestimate”…”underestimate the [actual] severity of the extinction crisis…, [t]hese estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way.” They repeated, “we can confidently conclude that modern extinction rates are exceptionally high, that they are increasing, and that they suggest a mass extinction [is] under way — the sixth of its kind in Earth’s 4.5 billion years of history.”

I can see how human activities like leveling forests and overfishing are causing species to go extinct. But in my selfish survival mode — in my selfish survival mind — I could think, while this is a terrible thing, it’s not going to directly affect humans, is it? If there are no more rhinos or no more kangaroos, that’s a terrible thing. But, it’s not like that would affect me personally, my way of life, right? But, it’s not like that. Unfortunately, it’s not like that.

As the scientists behind this study point out, “The problem is that our environment is like a brick wall. It will hold if you pull [out] individual bricks, but eventually it [just takes] one to make [everything] fall apart.” Biodiversity provides a lot of critical functions that we don’t even think about — from cleaning up the water and air, to bees and other animals and birds pollinating plants.

[Remainder of transcript, along with sources and credits, available here: ]

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