MIT professor predicts Earth's sixth mass extinction could be triggered by 2100

A geophysics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has predicted that the Earth could start to undergo a sixth mass extinction by the year 2100.

According to a press release issued by the school, Daniel Rothman came to this determination after he "identified ‘thresholds of catastrophe’ in the carbon cycle that, if exceeded, would lead to an unstable environment, and ultimately, mass extinction."

Based on current conditions, he found that the next trigger could occur when about 310 gigatons of carbon is added to the planet’s oceans—a level that could be reached by 2100.

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How families across America are preparing for the apocalypse
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How families across America are preparing for the apocalypse
Jeff Nice empties his boot of dried corn at his farm in Kinston, North Carolina December 14, 2012. Preppers Jeff and Jeanie Nice live on a 13 acre farm where they raise beef, chicken, turkey and can vegetables from their garden. After completion of a government contact working in computers Jeff has spent most of his time on the farm tending to the livestock and general chores such as planting grass or keeping his equipment in working order. On the farm is a 200 yard rifle range where Jeff teaches hunter education and gun safety. Picture taken December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY AGRICULTURE)
Jeff Nice repairs a tractor disk at his farm in Kinston, North Carolina December 14, 2012. Preppers Jeff and Jeanie Nice live on a 13 acre farm where they raise beef, chicken, turkey and can vegetables from their garden. After completion of a government contact working in computers Jeff has spent most of his time on the farm tending to the livestock and general chores such as planting grass or keeping his equipment in working order. On the farm is a 200 yard rifle range where Jeff teaches hunter education and gun safety. Picture taken December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY AGRICULTURE)
A pen rests on a notepad with a list of chores at the Nice family farm in Kinston, North Carolina December 14, 2012. Preppers Jeff and Jeanie Nice live on a 13 acre farm where they raise beef, chicken, turkey and can vegetables from their garden. After completion of a government contact working in computers Jeff has spent most of his time on the farm tending to the livestock and general chores such as planting grass or keeping his equipment in working order. On the farm is a 200 yard rifle range where Jeff teaches hunter education and gun safety. Picture taken December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY AGRICULTURE)
Jeanie Nice trims excess meat off a cooked chicken to be used in soup in her kitchen in Kinston, North Carolina December 14, 2012. Preppers Jeff and Jeanie Nice live on a 13 acre farm where they raise beef, chicken, turkey and can vegetables from their garden. After completion of a government contact working in computers Jeff has spent most of his time on the farm tending to the livestock and general chores such as planting grass or keeping his equipment in working order. On the farm is a 200 yard rifle range where Jeff teaches hunter education and gun safety. Picture taken December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS FOOD)
Jeff Nice tends to his honey bees on his farm in Kinston, North Carolina December 14, 2012. Preppers Jeff and Jeanie Nice live on a 13 acre farm where they raise beef, chicken, turkey and can vegetables from their garden. After completion of a government contact working in computers Jeff has spent most of his time on the farm tending to the livestock and general chores such as planting grass or keeping his equipment in working order. On the farm is a 200 yard rifle range where Jeff teaches hunter education and gun safety. Picture taken December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS FOOD)
Chickens are seen in one of two freezers at the Nice family farm in Kinston, North Carolina December 14, 2012. Preppers Jeff and Jeanie Nice live on a 13 acre farm where they raise beef, chicken, turkey and can vegetables from their garden. After completion of a government contact working in computers Jeff has spent most of his time on the farm tending to the livestock and general chores such as planting grass or keeping his equipment in working order. On the farm is a 200 yard rifle range where Jeff teaches hunter education and gun safety. Picture taken December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS FOOD)
Jeanie Nice and her husband Jeff Nice carry parts for a shelving unit into their barn on their farm in Kinston, North Carolina December 14, 2012. Preppers Jeff and Jeanie Nice live on a 13 acre farm where they raise beef, chicken, turkey and can vegetables from their garden. After completion of a government contact working in computers Jeff has spent most of his time on the farm tending to the livestock and general chores such as planting grass or keeping his equipment in working order. On the farm is a 200 yard rifle range where Jeff teaches hunter education and gun safety. Picture taken December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY AGRICULTURE)
Phil Burns pulls a gun from his backpack full of survival supplies at his home in American Fork, Utah, December 14, 2012. While most "preppers" discount the Mayan calendar prophecy, many are preparing to be self-sufficient for threats like nuclear war, natural disaster, famine and economic collapse. Picture taken December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
Phil Burns, a firearms instructor, holds a handgun that he carries as part of his survival supplies at his home in American Fork, Utah, December 14, 2012. While most "preppers" discount the Mayan calendar prophecy many are preparing to be self-sufficient for threats like nuclear war, natural disaster, famine and economic collapse. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
Phil Burns demonstrates the air purifying SCape Mask at his home in American Fork, Utah, December 14, 2012. While most "preppers" discount the Mayan calendar prophecy, many are preparing to be self-sufficient for threats like nuclear war, natural disaster, famine and economic collapse. Picture taken December 14, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
Hugh Vail inventories his food storage at his home in Bountiful, Utah, December 10, 2012. While most "preppers" discount the Mayan calendar prophecy, many are preparing to be self-sufficient for threats like nuclear war, natural disaster, famine and economic collapse. Picture taken December 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY FOOD)
Hugh Vail cuts firewood at his home in Bountiful, Utah, December 10, 2012. While most "preppers" discount the Mayan calendar prophecy, many are preparing to be self-sufficient for threats like nuclear war, natural disaster, famine and economic collapse. Picture taken December 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
Mike Holland looks over as a chicken is run through the plucker after being slaughtered at the Holland family property in Warrenton, North Carolina December 13, 2012. Prepper Mike Holland lives with his wife, four children and three other men on their 13 acre property where they raise, chickens, turkey, goat and a cow for milk. In addition to livestock they also have a greenhouse and a few trailers that house food storage including multiple freezers. Outside of food preparations Holland has ammunition and firearms, a safe room, security cameras and a military grade generator for power. Picture taken December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS FOOD)
James Grant cuts a chicken's neck as he helps in the slaughter at the Holland family property in Warrenton, North Carolina December 13, 2012. Prepper Mike Holland lives with his wife, four children and three other men on their 13 acre property where they raise, chickens, turkey, goat and a cow for milk. In addition to livestock they also have a greenhouse and a few trailers that house food storage including multiple freezers. Outside of food preparations Holland has ammunition and firearms, a safe room, security cameras and a military grade generator for power.Picture taken December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS FOOD)
Mike Holland reviews his stock of dry food storage in a trailer at the Holland family property in Warrenton, North Carolina December 13, 2012. Prepper Mike Holland lives with his wife, four children and three other men on their 13 acre property where they raise, chickens, turkey, goat and a cow for milk. In addition to livestock they also have a greenhouse and a few trailers that house food storage including multiple freezers. Outside of food preparations Holland has ammunition and firearms, a safe room, security cameras and a military grade generator for power. Picture taken December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES)
Noah Holland reads a book in the living room of his family's home at the Holland family property in Warrenton, North Carolina December 13, 2012. Prepper Mike Holland lives with his wife, four children and three other men on their 13 acre property where they raise, chickens, turkey, goat and a cow for milk. In addition to livestock they also have a greenhouse and a few trailers that house food storage including multiple freezers. Outside of food preparations Holland has ammunition and firearms, a safe room, security cameras and a military grade generator for power. Picture taken December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY)
James Blair cleans chickens at the Holland family property in Warrenton, North Carolina December 13, 2012. Prepper Mike Holland lives with his wife, four children and three other men on their 13 acre property where they raise, chickens, turkey, goat and a cow for milk. In addition to livestock they also have a greenhouse and a few trailers that house food storage including multiple freezers. Outside of food preparations Holland has ammunition and firearms, a safe room, security cameras and a military grade generator for power. Picture taken December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS FOOD)
A knife is covered with blood and a few feathers while it is used to slaughter chickens at the Holland family property in Warrenton, North Carolina December 13, 2012. Prepper Mike Holland lives with his wife, four children and three other men on their 13 acre property where they raise, chickens, turkey, goat and a cow for milk. In addition to livestock they also have a greenhouse and a few trailers that house food storage including multiple freezers. Outside of food preparations Holland has ammunition and firearms, a safe room, security cameras and a military grade generator for power. Picture taken December 13, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY ANIMALS)
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“This is not saying that disaster occurs the next day. It’s saying that, if left unchecked, the carbon cycle would move into a realm which would be no longer stable, and would behave in a way that would be difficult to predict," Rothman said. "In the geologic past, this type of behavior is associated with mass extinction.” 

And while Rothman acknowledges that a link between carbon cycle disruptions and a significant wipeout of species is still unknown, he found that the dynamic nonetheless applied to the five past extinction events from the previous 450 million years—including the one believed to have killed the dinosaurs. 

Meanwhile, another study released in July suggested, “there’s growing evidence that a sixth mass extinction is unfolding,” according to CBS News.

SEE ALSO: The doomsday vault that's supposed to store every known crop on the planet is in danger

The team from Stanford University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico cited the shrinking populations of numerous animals around the world as proof; in fact, they went so far as to call it “biological annihilation.” 

“All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life,” the researchers added.

Rothman has suggested that reducing carbon emissions and studying past cycles could be helpful. 

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