To: Humans, From: Everything Else on the Planet -- Thanks a lot

Four billion years. That's how long the Earth has been around. In that period of time, the ecosystem has gone through roughly five of what are being called "mass extinction periods", which is exactly what it sounds like: everything dies. Now, scientists are suggesting we're heading into period #6, but this time there's a catalyst that has nothing to do with giant space rocks or volcanoes or God turning down the thermostat -- take a wild guess what that catalyst might be.

It's okay, I'll wait.

Still guessing? Here's a hint. It's us.

At this point, the appearance and propagation of existing species is being rapidly outmatched by species that are vanishing, literally every day. And it's all our fault. To illustrate, here's a great quote from David Wake, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley:

"There's no question that we are in a mass extinction spasm right now...[A]mphibians have been around for about 250 million years. They made it through when the dinosaurs didn't. The fact that they're cutting out now should be a lesson for us."

So whatever it was that killed off the dinosaurs, we're worse. Anybody really surprised? Show of hands?

Here are some more fun facts: according to the 10,000 or so scientists who work for the World Conservation Union, 51 per cent of known reptiles, 52 per cent of known insects, and 73 per cent of known flowering plants are in danger, along with a metric ton of mammals, birds and amphibians. Not enough? We are killing off species we don't even know exist yet. Remember all those warnings we got back in the early 90's about how we could potentially steamroll over the cure for cancer or AIDS and not even know it? Yeah, welcome to the new millennium, where science fiction has become science fact.

Let's take it even a step farther, and you can take this one with a grain of salt because it's a little apocalyptic even for my new-found worldview, but check this out. Straight from the mouth of Peter Raven, past President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

"We have driven the rate of biological extinction, the permanent loss of species, up several hundred times beyond its historical levels, and are threatened with the loss of a majority of all species by the end of the 21st century."

Several hundred times. Roll that number around in your head for a minute. We have cell phones more powerful than the personal computers of ten years ago; we can text one another from New Zealand to Toronto in the blink of an eye; we have iPods and Blackberries and automatic everything and five cars a household and sex toys designed by NASA -- and even with all this human ingenuity at work, we can't seem to stop killing everything.

It's like the author of the article says: what good are all these conveniences if we manage to rape, pillage, burn and destroy our natural environment, and essentially murder ourselves in slow motion in the process?

It's time for a serious alteration of our priorities. Like, now. Right now. I'm not kidding.

Check it out.


Anonymous said...

Killing is what we do. We LOVE killing. It's fun. I don't mind as much as you though because sooner or later mankind will be extinct and mother nature can go back to doing what she does best.

I'm all too happy to watch mankind self destruct, and if a few guppies and woodpeckers have to come along for the ride then so be it.

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