Is Extinction True?

The word about the Holocene Extinction, AKA the Sixth Mass Extinction, is beginning to spread. Lowbrow naysayers have linked together unrelated studies with the attitude, “Here we go again…” Others dismiss the work of the research team by casting aspersions on Paul Ehlrich, who has produced fatalistic studies in the past (which still hold relevant truths). A fair and informative interview with head researcher Gerardo Ceballos can be found at this link:

Given the naysayers are pooh-poohing the extinction for self gratification, the mariner feels certain that industries and reactionaries who have vested interests in keeping culture and economy the way it is, prefer nothing should change and will take delaying actions beyond the naysayers skepticism.

No one can predict with certainty how long the extinction process will take. This makes it easy for many to sit by the side of the road and wait to see what happens. “Waiting” is self destructive. No one wants to give up automobiles for enforced mass transit; utilities don’t want to shut down electrical plants in favor of distributed non-fossil fuel electricity; the coal industry doesn’t want to be banished; the magic of fracking, which isn’t magic and is a dirty industrial process, doesn’t want tightly controlled regulations that will cut into profits; households still want strawberries in grocery stores in January; travel destinations don’t want transportation restricted; households and industries don’t want to be relocated to restore an endangered habitat….ad infinitum.

The only point that no one except politicians seems to challenge is that global warming is happening increasingly fast. There is too much data to refute that. How fast is a matter of conjecture but it is easy to get into a conversation like, “I remember crabbing for Maryland crabs; I took home a bushel in one day!” The mariner knows firsthand that doesn’t happen anymore. He’s sure the reader can think of a personal comparison where wildlife was more plentiful, beaches were pristine, and water birds, seals and otters weren’t covered in crude oil.

Remember the Passenger Pigeon? It was by far the most numerous bird species in North America at the turn of the 1900’s. There were billions of them across all of North America. Deforestation and commercial hunting wiped out the Passenger Pigeon. The last one died in a zoo in 1914. The Passenger Pigeon is an example of how Homo sapiens expedites mass extinction. In the post, Advocacy at Home – Specie Ecology, posted earlier this month, the mariner provided a list of endangered animals that went on for pages. The mariner provides again a short quote from the Cree Indians:

“Only when the last tree has died, the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”

As Naomi Klein says in her book, This Changes Everything, the Earth’s biosphere is not a for-profit issue. The world’s cultures and priorities must turn away from capitalistic solutions and reinvest – at cost – in the biosphere for our own survival.

The mariner leaves this issue for awhile. Like yeast in bread, the idea of mass extinction needs time to rise. He asks only that the reader pay attention to the news and magazine articles that discuss global warming, water shortage, weather energy and changes to the oceans, polar ice, and disappearing creatures because humans have destroyed their habitat.

Ancient Mariner

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