On the Brink of Extinction…Well Not Quite

I have written a few posts about how we, humans, are not necessarily good for the environment, and that could be quite the understatement. While I would be inclined to believe that line of thinking, there are those who would take this idea a step further and suggest that we are so bad for the planet that we have actually ushered forth a new epoch called the Anthropocene, which is by most accounts the latest mass extinction our planet has seen.

So as I mentioned above the post I linked explains some of the specifics about epoch’s and the last few the Earth has gone through. Recently I came across this article, which brings the idea that everything is dying back down to Earth, if you will. While it is very long, some 4,800 words, and no I did not read the whole thing that is damn near a novella or short story. What is with journalist writing novels as articles, whatever happened just the facts please! I think journalist need to understand that everything does not need to be an emotionally involved story with a beginning, middle, and end. Anyways I digress, that point of the article basically states that scientist may have jumped to conclusion, that we may not be entering a mass extinction after all, and everything may not be dying as they say. Here are a few excerpts from the article:


Many now assume that we are in the midst of a human-caused ‘Sixth Mass Extinction’ to rival the one that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. But we’re not. The five historic mass extinctions eliminated 70 per cent or more of all species in a relatively short time. That is not going on now. ‘If all currently threatened species were to go extinct in a few centuries and that rate continued,’ began a recent Nature magazine introduction to a survey of wildlife losses, ‘the sixth mass extinction could come in a couple of centuries or a few millennia.’

Its most recent report shows that of the 1.5 million identified species, and 76,199 studied by IUCN scientists, some 23,214 are deemed threatened with extinction. So, if all of those went extinct in the next few centuries, and the rate of extinction that killed them kept right on for hundreds or thousands of years more, then we might be at the beginning of a human-caused Sixth Mass Extinction.


So as with most things I have gone back and forth with this one, and this is just one guy who is saying this but I do think he has a very good point. Which I think is a good thing, I don’t want to be the person that jumps on a bandwagon just because it has the flashiest lights and what not. As with most things I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. A while back I spoke to my friend who is a meteorologist, yeah that is correct, and he said that the climate is undoubtedly warming. The problem is, as most experts argue, are humans responsible for this change. Depending on who you talk to some say yes some say no, although I think that the majority consensus from the experts is that we are responsible. I do not agree with this 100%, as I think putting the blame squarely on our shoulders is not completely accurate. I will also say that I do not have all the information or facts in front of me, but that is my partially educated belief. Do we have an impact on the climate, ABSOLUTLEY, but are we the only thing influencing it, no way! But I will say that we are hovering around the 40% to 60% area of our influence quite possibly more. That is a large chunk for a single aspect.

So regardless of where you sit on that issue, the globe is getting hotter and making it difficult for a variety of animals to survive. But just because the average temperatures are getting hotter, does that mean that there is a mass extinction going on? As the excerpt from the article states the actual definition of a mass extinction covers millions of years and eliminates the vast majority of species, like near all of them, like some 90% or possibly more. If you take that into consideration I do not think we are anywhere near that. I will also say that just because we are not at the those epic proportions of another mass extinction, that does not mean that we are not at the beginning of one, but that is hard to tell and I think more research will need to be done to figure that out.

I would argue that the increase temperatures of the planet are making it harder for some if not all species to survive along with the acidification of the oceans, but again I do not think species are dying left and right. This, as most things, is a difficult subject to wrap my brain around and make a final judgment against. At the end of the day I think we play a role, if not a large one. We may in fact be entering the latest and greatest mass extinction but I think it is beyond premature to jump to that conclusion just yet, but the majority of the media and info out there would say otherwise. The other odd thing is that we seem to be making progress in certain areas, see it’s not all bad news.

Funny thing is that one of the biologist in the above article is Edward Wilson, I just finished his book The Meaning of Human Existence a while back. The article is an interesting read and one that is quite optimistic and they highlight the good things we have done to help bring back certain species from the brink of extinction. So again as I mentioned above I the truth in both aspects of global warming and the Anthropocene mass extinction lies somewhere in the middle. I also read somewhere that something like the entirety of the human population could fit inside a land area the size of Texas, leaving the rest of the world alone and to fend for itself, while this would be ideal for the rest of the planet I am not sure that is a good idea for us. While this is a crazy idea to think about it is nonetheless fascinating. Although I think that would be a very bad idea as I would think disease and a multitude of other problems would plague mankind thus putting us on the brink of extinction.

As always there is a give and take relationship we have with the planet, and the reality of the situation is that something has to die for us to survive. The problems start when an exorbitant amount of things, start to die, even those that are unrelated to our survival, that is when we will have some real problems and we can begin to discuss in depth this mass extinction as a reality. I do not think we are there yet, and if I am being optimistic I don’t think we ever will, at least I hope…






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