Is Homo sapiens too Expensive for its Habitat?

Through his retirement years, mariner has had more time to sit aside and watch the world go by. What has emerged is awareness that Homo sapiens will have a relatively short, finite time as a member of living things on Mother Earth. For the last five hundred thousand years or so, H. sapiens has used superior skills to garner excessive resources beyond the amount required given the type of animal spawned within its natural environment.

It began when H. sapiens invented the spear. The invention of weapons to hunt game has been used by a few other primates but not with the intellectual capability to leverage weaponry as its own, organized thing.

Humans (AKA H. sapiens et al) elevated hunting with team management and scientific advancements like the atlatl; it was the advantage needed for earliest humans to overhunt environmental resources. Humans still overhunt species today (American Bison, Carrier Pigeon) – or intentionally eliminate them only because they interfere with other prerogatives (estuary and otherwise rare habitat, coral, useless specimen hunting) – from overhunting African wildlife to being, as of today, the cause for the extinction of 50% of all living species – plant and animal. Humans have so decimated the Earth’s biosphere they have added to cataclysmic events by causing the Sixth Great Extinction. The other five were caused by the greater laws of astrophysics.

Humans have extended hunting to the mineral and chemical world, also known today as science and technology, until we accomplished the following effects:

Better weapons for hunting using iron, steel, copper, and unnatural chemicals like Roundup and agent orange to make it easier than weed pulling by hand or landscaping large areas with axes and brushhogs. The primary reasons to impose these aberrations then, would be ‘it’s easier than by hand’ and ‘why not; we can do it.’ Humans pay little note to the infringement on nature’s way of running the biosphere.

Better weapons for destruction using chemicals and metals that have total disregard for ramifications to the biosphere, which, on the good side eliminates some of the dangerously overpopulated species (H sapiens) but on the other hand demonstrates the continuous devastation humans have on the biosphere. Mariner will mention only Hiroshima as an example and let intentional military destruction go at that. Did you know that nuclear warhead testing and use is responsible for Strontium 90 being present in our tobacco and similar broadleaf plants?

The mariner thinks all human abuse on the biosphere can be traced to the thought that it takes idle minds to invent trouble – why aren’t we busy cultivating common weeds into a food source and otherwise weeding them from our gardens by hand? As the ‘intelligent’ creature, why aren’t humans doing their share to help the biosphere for the betterment of all creatures? After all, the biosphere is the perpetual uterus for everything – including humans.

Humans ignore the sophisticated balance of the biosphere – how every living thing has a niche that provides enough to survive but limits its imposition on the balance of nature. 90% of Monarch butterflies are gone. The human impact continues as if humans want them all gone – or at least are indifferent to our unwelcome behavior that sends so many creatures from tree frogs to elephants into extinction in this century. Is this a sign of the apocalypse? If it is, it includes humans.

A conundrum arises if humans reset their attitude: There aren’t enough resources to support seven billion soon to be twelve billion humans who want to drink percolated coffee every morning before each human drives off in its own expensive seashell. [the hermit crab shares our plight] Point made. Not to mention the six hundred-thread bed sheets and Donald’s Mar a Lago. The biosphere will deal with that last one shortly.

Humans are pretending they aren’t aware that anything is wrong. HAH. Why are the following terms worthy of mention in most nations?

Grass fed – No Hormones – Not genetically modified food – Nature’s choice – Naturally caught seafood – No additives – Not commercially owned water source – Not made from ivory – Not manufactured from coal – and on and on. Think of a few on your own.

Accountable to readers for some kind of advice, mariner has the following:

No amount of effort will turn things around. Planet Earth has decided to end this age. Being the boss, Earth neither requires permission nor will accept suggestions.

Within the reader’s own biosphere, assume a lifestyle that respects simplistic, natural habits. Methuselah lived over nine hundred years without airplanes, trains, or automobiles. It took Noah’s flood to kill him off. Many of mariner’s closest friends travel frequently; the mariner admits to a few passage sailing trips. Bon voyage, he says. A simplistic solution may be to set aside a trip every now and then to use the unexpended resources to help our uterus (yes, graphic but the entire subject is contained within).

Remain aware of cultural impact. Many times biosphere issues can help lawmakers and voters decide the better direction for legislation, e.g., too much carbon for the biosphere.

Remain educated on the relationship between humans and the biosphere generally. It helps with awareness. Visit the following website to keep in touch.

Check out Earth Overshoot Day which this year is August 8.

A general news source for interesting and important topics: One article describes a day in the life of an orphaned hippopotamus; the main article headline reads, “Humans Stripping Earth of Its Resources – Global biodiversity has fallen 30 percent in 40 years, the new report says.” See:  Otherwise, be aware that with a little more human-biocentric awareness, how can you simplify your life without the over-abundant dependence on the “plastic/electronic” aspects of your culture?

Further, definitely assign yourself the responsibility to grow some milkweed for the Monarchs, have a place on your property – if only your fourth story windowsill – to provide water to birds and food in the winter. Like the good Samaritan, don’t pass up opportunities to rescue the plight of any creature including Homo Sapiens.

Today’s comfort and sense of accomplishment is most important now rather than waiting 10,000 years to the end of our age when there will be no Homo sapiens.

Ancient Mariner

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


On Friday, Stanford University released a study by internationally prestigious scientists that declared planet Earth is well into the sixth mass extinction (Holocene). The report has charts and other references that indicate the fabric of the planet’s ecosystem is collapsing at an ever increasing rate. The report predicted the collapse would occur in about three human lifetimes (315 years+or-). The report further suggested that humans will be one of the earlier extinctions because of human dependence on so many environmental and specie services, e.g., naturally cleaned water, pollination by bees, and stable weather patterns for vegetation.

The mariner is befuddled that no television outlet grabbed this issue. If the reader hadn’t come across an article on a few websites, the reader would never know that extinction of Homo sapiens has become a statistical reality – near enough that today’s elementary school children will have their lives disrupted in significant if not fatal ways. Despite what the Bible says about Armageddon, it will not occur in one day. It will occur faster and faster over time. For the most part, symptoms will involve starvation, disease, economic collapse, vandalism and true anarchy as governments will not have the resources to quell the collapse of rule by law.

There is a book on this subject published recently by Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate. (The mariner’s town library has a copy as well as a copy of The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert). Klein has written several books on the subject of economic greed destroying the planet. Following is an excerpt from the New York Times book review for This Changes Everything:

“Klein diagnoses impressively what hasn’t worked. No more claptrap about fracked gas as a bridge to renewables. Enough already of the international summit meetings that produce sirocco-quality hot air, and nonbinding agreements that bind us all to more emissions. Klein dismantles the boondoggle that is cap and trade. She skewers grandiose command-and-control schemes to re-engineer the planet’s climate. No point, when a hubristic mind-set has gotten us into this mess, to pile on further hubris. She reserves a special scorn for the partnerships between Big Green organizations and Immense Carbon, peddled as win-win for everyone, but which haven’t slowed emissions. Such partnerships remind us that when the lamb and the lion lie down together, only one of them gets eaten.

In democracies driven by lobbyists, donors and plutocrats, the giant polluters are going to win while the rest of us, in various degrees of passivity and complicity, will watch the planet die. “Any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews,” Klein writes. “Our economic system and our planetary system are now at war.”

The point is, there is a mountain of resistance to change – especially on capitalist philosophy and the ingrained demand for ever increasing profits. How long will it take Earth’s humans to break the most successful profit engine in history? The Mass Extinction report implies that everything must be corrected in two lifetimes to prevent full collapse of the environment.

The mariner includes one chart from the report that ties the development of the mass extinction, or conversely, the destruction of the global environment, back to the beginning of the industrial age.

extinct animals

An easy to read article is available at the following link:

As Naomi Klein pointed out (and Pogo), our own perceptions of what is good, better and best for each human, each of all species, and the planet environment itself, is a myth. We do not have a model of human behavior that matches the reality around us – nor will reality accept it. Yet, humans are delinquent and tardy in how they manage their own place on the planet.

How many years will it take for humans to eliminate arrogance and hubris and recognize that we are not the reason for the Earth to exist?

How many years will it take for core cultural values to recognize that Homo sapiens is not, by a high count, the superior species. We are more dependent on many other species than they are on us.

How many years will it take to dismantle capitalism and nationalism? If history serves correctly, once a nation has cured its unstable situation of war and abuse, it won’t be until the third generation thereafter before that nation will have leaders unscarred and unbiased in their decisions about national policy and culture.

The mariner will have more on the Holocene as matters develop. He presents only high level concepts and ideas in this post; he depends on the reader to pursue links and news sources that will add more substance to this issue.

Ancient Mariner

NASA Website

A very interesting place to visit once in a while is the website of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). There are many articles shedding light on global conditions around the planet. The mariner lists three to whet the reader’s appetite:

(NASA) released a study of the Earth’s aquifers using new satellite technology that studied the 37 largest aquifers from 2003 to 2013. The study reported that one-third of the aquifers are stressed. The most stressed are in heavily populated and frequently poor areas. To see map and report go to:

Another study reported that it would take 11 trillion gallons of water to replenish California’s loss during the four-year drought. Go to:

Study shows increasing carbon emissions could increase US droughts. Droughts in the U.S. Southwest and Central Plains during the last half of this century could be drier and longer than drought conditions seen in those regions in the last 1,000 years, according to a new NASA study. Two very good videos are available showing the drought regions:

There are many more NASA reports about the condition of the Earth. It’s worth a visit once in a while.

Ancient Mariner


Advocacy at Home – Global Ecology

Ecology is a cousin topic to environment. However, while environment suffers from geologic shifts, climate change and excess carbon in the atmosphere, ecology focuses directly on living creatures and their habitats. Include humans as a living creature. Globally, the United Nations estimates that 200 species go extinct every day. In her book, The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert states that this rate of extinction is far beyond anything since the Cretaceous Extinction when the dinosaurs disappeared.

Kolbert says humans are the cause of the sixth extinction. Daily, millions of acres of habitat and whole seas are destroyed to make way for human activity. We know about oil spills and burning the Amazon rain forest. Does the reader know that humans, along with global warming, carried a frog-killing fungus (chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) to every continent – even the Antarctic! This virus originally existed in one valley in South America.

It is common knowledge that bees are struggling because of many things from viruses to insecticides. The same is true of bats. In the states of New York, Vermont and Indiana, whole colonies are dying. The mariner knows from experience on the farm that a good bat colony keeps the mosquitoes away as well as many insects destructive to crops. One researcher suspects a spelunker who visited caves in the three states is the most likely culprit.

No doubt, the sanctity of other creatures is disregarded as Homo sapiens trashes its way over the surface of the planet.

The news yesterday covered a story about large numbers of turtles and thousands of fish washing up on shore in Peconic Bay on Long Island. Not studied in detail yet, it is suspected that an algae bloom occurred in the bay; excessive amounts of saxitoxin (a byproduct of algae) were found in the dead animals. The cause is presumed to be antiquated sewage systems around the bay. Homes are old in the area and use buried septic tanks instead of modern sewage practices. Sewage, rich in Nitrogen, leached into the bay causing a red bloom of algae. Now, Peconic Bay is off limits to humans but the sewage tanks remain.

The mariner recommends the reader take a slow walk around the house and property followed by an hour’s walk around the neighborhood. Carry a pen and a small notebook. Look for wildlife or evidence of wildlife. List each creature you find. Do not exclude any creature; ants, bees, worms, and “bugs” count, chained dogs count, birds, foxes, squirrels – every creature. Make a note beside each creature telling what is critical to its habitat; does the creature depend on human habitation? Is its habitat under stress or damaged by human activity? Would the creature notice if the human infrastructure weren’t present?

Also, note situations that seem to detract from the creature’s environment – things like streets between feeding grounds, sparse ground cover, broken glass and human rubble that interferes with grazing by birds and other creatures that need to eat on the ground; oil spills and other contaminating chemicals, no open water (not even an old rain puddle), etc.

Without leaving the neighborhood, the walk has sensitized the reader to how every creature has its own habitat. What would improve the relationship between their habitats and the human habitat? What can the reader do to improve the situation? In many cases, because things and space belong to others, nothing can be done – or maybe something.

Wherever the reader lives, there is a conservation/wildlife organization nearby. Participate in projects that improve ecological health and opportunity for all creatures; at least be a subscribing member. As you will see in a later advocacy about species, the names and phone numbers of environment and animal protection organizations are important to have handy.

It has been said many times that ‘nature is pristine.’ That phrase is used only when one is observing nature undisturbed by humans. Undisturbed nature has had eons to integrate and balance the many habitats that co-exist. Nevertheless, humans have now arrived. What can the reader do to integrate with nature?

It may be as simple as a bird feeder in the winter and a birdbath in the summer. Maybe the toad in the garden (a sign of good fortune) would like a cool spot under a broken flower pot. Maybe the dog would like to go somewhere to have a good run – that’s what dogs do best. In that bare spot by the back fence, plant white clover for the bees. Build a small pond engineered to be a genuine habitat for many small creatures. It’s an old saw but plant a tree. The mariner planted milkweed for the Monarchs.

Don’t be deterred by the fact that the reader lives in a condominium or apartment. On the other side of the front door is a whole world of outside.

Ecological advocacy is about sensitivity to life – all life.

Ancient Mariner

Having a Hog for Dinner

Or maybe a chicken, or leg of lamb or a steak tenderloin. It is the ritual of the farming life. Most of us remember the family farm. It was a good way of life. Farm operation was self-sustained. There was a balance between investment, byproducts (including environmental contamination), and lifestyle.

Those were the good old days. Farmers took pride in their individual efforts and products. The County Fair was big time and winners could boast of best livestock, best crop, and even best harness race horse. Children were encouraged to compete in future farmer contests that required intense engagement with animals, their health and even their happiness.

It isn’t that way anymore. The reader remembers it that way, but that farm is long gone. Even organic farms are run for profit, not for lifestyle. Largely, what exist today are corporate farms. Corporate farms disregard the environmental impact; corporate farms waste water in immense volumes; corporate farms physically torture livestock to increase profit.

And Iowa is the worst state in the United States.

The mariner mentioned once before that he is a member of Food and Water Watch (FWW), which concerns itself with abusive treatment of resources, livestock, pollution, or misrepresentation to the customer. Below is a website that will lead you to a map that shows the concentration of corporate farms in the US. Look at Iowa. The Koch brothers participate in more corporate farms than any other Iowa corporation. They are opposed across the board to humane treatment of livestock and disregard the gross impact of their waste on the environment.

 Screw the world, give me my dollars. Does this describe the American dream?

Ancient Mariner


Topic: Environment

Just a day or two ago, the mariner wrote that environmental issues and their solutions will be the largest contributor to new approaches and standards for the economy, jobs, new business opportunities, tax adjustments and infrastructure.

Already the mariner has benefitted from improvement of the environment in his home town. The City Council, as part of funds available from a larger project dealing with soil erosion and pollution in local streams and drainage ditches, eliminated several Ash trees.

In just a year or two, dying Ash trees will be an economic burden on this town and its citizens. The Emerald Ash Borer, a green beetle, kills Ash trees by burying eggs in the cambium layer of the tree. When the eggs hatch, the grubs destroy the cambium layer, eventually girdling the tree. This town has many, many stately old and very large Ash trees.

The mariner had six Ash trees on his property. In front of the house by the street, three Ash trees were within the path of the larger project to upgrade surface drainage ditches. The trees were removed by the City Council. The mariner estimates that each tree would have cost him $1,500 when the time came to remove them. He will attempt to save the three remaining trees with a new root drench product. With luck, maybe the trees can be saved. They may already be infected.

Other homes along the proposed drainage upgrade had Ash trees removed as well.

Of course, the mariner is pleased at the unexpected savings. He also saw the experience as a classic example of how environmental improvement creates unexpected benefits for many people, businesses and ecosystems beyond the specific goal of the improvement.

Taxes can be modified by the many tax rebates available for home improvements designed to reduce energy usage, e.g., improved insulation, renewable energy solutions and weatherized windows. The city will have tangential benefits because road surfaces and shoulders will not erode as quickly – an improvement in infrastructure.

Now on to natural resources and higher standards for their utilization.

Ancient Mariner