Previously published at CounterPunch.org on 30 October 2015 Reproduced with permission.
The word is in from the wildlife biologists.
Say goodbye in North America to the gray wolf, the cougar, the grizzly bear. They are destined for extinction sometime in the next 40 years. Say goodbye to the Red wolf and the Mexican wolf and the Florida panther. Gone the jaguar, the ocelot, the wood bison, the buffalo, the California condor, the North Atlantic right whale, the Stellar sea lion, the hammerhead shark, the leatherback sea turtle. That’s just North America.
Worldwide, the largest and most charismatic animals, the last of the megafauna, our most ecologically important predators and big ungulates, the wildest wild things, will be the first to go in the anthropogenic extinction event of the Holocene Era. The tiger and leopard and the elephant and lion in Africa and Asia. The primates, the great apes, our wild cousins. The polar bears in the Arctic Sea. The shark and killer whale in every ocean.
“Extinction is now proceeding thousands of times faster than the production of new species,” biologist E.O. Wilson writes. Between 30 and 50 percent of all known species are expected to go extinct by 2050, if current trends hold. There are five other mass extinction events in the geologic record, stretching back 500 million years. But none were the result of a single species’ overreach.
I’ve found conversation with my biologist sources to be terribly dispiriting. The conversation goes like this: Homo sapiens are out of control, a bacteria boiling in the petri dish; the more of us, demanding more resources, means less space for every other life form; the solution is less of us, consuming fewer resources, but that isn’t happening. It can’t happen. Our economic system, industrial consumer capitalism, requires constant growth, more people buying more things. “I will go so far as to say [that] capitalism itself may be dependent on a growing population,” writes billionaire capitalist blogger Bill Gross, Forbes magazine’s Bond King. “Our modern era of capitalism over the past several centuries has never known a period of time in which population declined or grew less than 1% a year.” Growth for growth’s sake, what Edward Abbey called the ideology of the cancer cell. Continue reading
This is perhaps the most confusing, complex, and debated topic on the political burner these days. As we enter the New Year, talk is increasing that the U.S. Congress seriously may take up a reform of U.S. immigration policy. I think it is not so complex and confusing. Let me explain my view and see what you have to say.
Humanity is possibly on the verge of species collapse. I know, most people absolutely do not want to accept this statement. Surely we can find ways to avoid this calamity. Well, possibly. But, the way we’re going, don’t count on it. If you are a doubter, please stay tuned for a later blog posting by me on “Bad Thinking—Wrongheaded Action.”
What I mean by collapse may not include extinction of humans from the Earth (but it could). What is clearly threatened is a painful, possibly abrupt, large decline of global population, with varying magnitudes by region, mainly as a result of knocking out many of “nature’s services.” These are ecosystems and other parts of nature necessary to support human life at the current population level of over 7 billion (and growing). They include the fresh water we drink, the food we eat, the minerals we extract from the Earth, and the supplementary energy sources we think we need to have a good life (beyond what comes from the sun automatically). If we knock out too many species, bees for example (critical to the pollination of our crops), human life will suffer, not just due to loss of our numbers in a fairly precipitous manner, but from a rapid change in the industrial way of life which will create incredible hardships, discomfort, and premature deaths. Continue reading
The Population Media Center’s Daily Email of June 15th reported* on the work of an interdisciplinary group of 22 scientists, which combined paleontological evidence with ecological modeling, and concluded that the earth appears headed toward catastrophic and irreversible environmental changes.
Below is a somewhat more pleasing item, a report on the Brazilian success in lowering their fertility rate to below replacement level.
If you would like to see the Brazilian article, click here.
*PMC also provided the following sobering look at the myth of economics by Paul Farrell of MarketWatch:
It’s one thing to say you believe generally in science, at least well-established principles and findings thereof. But how many people really take the trouble to listen when reputable scientists speak or write about fully developed and validated findings?
Something remarkable happened this year. Three thousand scientists and experts, including a number of Nobel Laureates, joined together last March and issued a warning about the planet and possible “catastrophic consequences” for global civilization. Their “State of the Planet Declaration” is not long, is readily available, and should be read by everyone who cares about the future of humans.
Robert Walker, President of the Population Institute has addressed this issue in an article on the subject for Huffington Post. It comes in the form of an Op-Ed on the subject from the Population Institute and the Population Media Center. In his Op-Ed, Walker writes of the derision and rhetorical attacks on the Royal Society, which sponsored the report.
I’ve been harping about overpopulation for some time now. Fortunately, there are major efforts around the world to reduce fertility levels to more sustainable values. But are they being implemented fast enough?
Of course, I don’t forget the additional (derivative?) concerns about inadvertent climate modification (including global warming) and its effects on ecosystems as well as people. We cannot neglect the role of what are called “nature’s services,” which depend upon maintaining biodiversity. [Do a Google search on “Nature’s services” for numerous links to information on that topic.]
Now, thanks to Joe Bish at Population Media Center, comes this pair of interesting articles on diversity loss:
Impacts of biodiversity loss rival those of climate change and pollution by Emmett Duffy on May 2, 2012 in SeaMonster – Ocean science, sports, and discovery