Researchers learn a lot about Mass Extinction: Smithsonian Documentary

Updated: December 1, 2014
Researchers learn a lot about Mass Extinction: Smithsonian Documentary

The film Mass Extinction: Life at the Brink reveals what scientists have learned about two cataclysmic events that extinguished nearly every plant and animal on earth; and rising concerns that humans could cause the next disaster.

The dinosaurs, of course, suffered the most attention-getting fate. An asteroid 6 miles wide crashed into Earth, triggering atmospheric disruption that made dinosaur life impossible.

Before that, however, there was the “Great Dying,” which was triggered by volcanic eruptions that poisoned the air and the water and killed 90% of all life.

“Mass Extinction” goes into great detail on exactly how these events led to those devastating reactions. It’s grim science, compelling science and best of all, understandable science. It connects the dots for us civilians.

Its larger point, which is emphatic while trying not to scold, keeps coming back to the way we’re treating our air, soil and water.

We’re killing off animal and plant species simply because it’s convenient and makes our lives easier and cheaper.

In the process, we’re gradually using up the planet’s resources. The more we use up, and the less attention we pay to replacing them, the sooner we will lose the environmental links that ensure our own survival.