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+ - Earth in the midst of sixth mass extinction - the "anthropocene defaunation"->

Submitted by mspohr
mspohr (589790) writes "A special issue of Science magazine devoted to Vanishing Fauna publishes a series of articles about the man-caused extinction of species and the implications for ecosystems and the climate.
"During the Pleistocene epoch, only tens of thousands of years ago, our planet supported large, spectacular animals. Mammoths, terror birds, giant tortoises, and saber-toothed cats, as well as many less familiar species such as giant ground sloths (some of which reached 7 meters in height) and glyptodonts (which resembled car-sized armadillos), roamed freely. Since then, however, the number and diversity of animal species on Earth have consistently and steadily declined. Today we are left with a relatively depauperate fauna, and we continue to lose animal species to extinction rapidly. Although some debate persists, most of the evidence suggests that humans were responsible for extinction of this Pleistocene fauna, and we continue to drive animal extinctions today through the destruction of wild lands, consumption of animals as a resource or a luxury, and persecution of species we see as threats or competitors. "
Unfortunately, most of the detail is behind a paywall but the summary should be enough for Slashdot readers."

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+ - New study suggests patent trolls really are killing startups-> 1

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Heavy patent litigation scared off about $22 billion in VC funding over 5 years.

Patent reform advocates have long argued that "patent trolls"—companies that do nothing but sue over patents—are harmful to innovation, not just a plague on big companies. A new study attempted to find out if there's any real data behind that accusation or if it's just a few sad anecdotes.

Turns out there is a very real, and very negative, correlation between patent troll lawsuits and the venture capital funding that startups rely on. A just-released study [PDF] by Catherine Tucker, a professor of marketing at MIT's Sloan School of Business, finds that over the last five years, VC investment "would have likely been $21.772 billion higher... but for litigation brought by frequent litigators."

The study defines "frequent litigators" as companies that file 20 or more patent lawsuits, which limits the definition to true-blue "patent trolls," or Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), the term used by the paper. The study covers the period from 1995 to 2012.

Tucker's paper estimates a 95 percent confidence interval for the amount of lost investment to be between $8.1 billion and $41.8 billion. Those numbers are relative to a baseline of just under $131 billion of investment that actually occurred during that five-year period time."

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