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Just A Bad Case Of Fleas
By Ernest Stewart
"We're going away. Pack your shit, folks. We're going away. And we won't leave much of a trace, either. Maybe a little Styrofoam ... The planet'll be here; and we'll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet'll shake us off like a bad case of fleas. ~~~ George Carlin
Biologists have once again confirmed their own worst fears; humans have launched a new phase of mass extinction.
According to a new study, there have been five catastrophic episodes in the 500 million-year history of complex life; and humanity has now precipitated a sixth.
Gerardo Ceballos, a researcher in the Department of Ecology Biodiversity at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and colleagues, report in the journal Science Advances that their calculations are based on the most conservative possible estimates of extinction in recent human history.
They compared those with the calculated "background," or normal, rate of extinction throughout evolution, and came to the conclusion that vertebrate species are slipping away into the eternal night at least 114 times faster than they would if there were no humans around to hunt them, destroy their habitats or change the climates in which they had evolved.
For example, according to Science Advances "the Earth is losing mammal species at 20 to 100 times the rate of the past. Since 1970 we've lost 52% of the Earth's bird, mammal, fish, reptile and amphibian populations, i.e., 39% for land-based species, 39% for marine species and 76% for freshwater species!"
Since 1900, 69 mammal species have gone extinct as have 400 other vertebrates! In Latin America alone they've lost 83% of their wildlife, (vertebrate) species!
One recent study even linked atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide with the worst event of all, "Great Dying" of the Permian period 252 million years ago. You may recall that the five mass extinctions were the Ordovician about 438 million years ago, the Devomnian of about 360 million years ago, the Permian of about 245 million years ago (which, perhaps, was the worst --allowing the rise of the dinosaurs), the Triassic about 208 million years ago, and the Cretaceous about 65 million years ago that got rid of most of the dinosaurs and 96% of all other species and made us mammals possible. Mammals had existed long before the dinosaurs; but only after most of them became extinct did we have a chance to develop.
Yet I hear you cry, "Mass extinction? What mass extinction? There are animals everywhere."
But as we enjoy a summer of air conditioning and bottled water, "Our global society has started to destroy species of other organisms at an accelerating rate, initiating a mass extinction episode unparalleled for 65 million years," according to the study published last week in Science Advances.
The study says we've already begun the sixth mass extinction; and, we're the cause!
The study concludes that even with conservative statistics, recent extinction rates are unprecedented in the history of mankind.
Based on previous extinctions, only nine species would've been expected to die off in the same time frame without the involvement of Mankind.
But before species die off, they face population loss, an issue that has grown dramatically in the past few decades because of human involvement. Here are some stats, provided by the World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet Report about the changing state of wildlife today.
"In less than 50 years, the populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have dropped by more than half -- and we've lost more than three-quarters of the Earth's freshwater population." This was judged in 2014 by the Living Planet Index, a partnership between the Zoological Society of London and the World Wildlife Fund. The LPI "measures more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish."
Latin America has had the most dramatic decline of any region since 1970. It's followed closely by the Asia-Pacific region.
One thing the study says is that "human existence that has led the Earth into the beginning of the sixth mass extinction. At current rates of consumption and emissions, 1 1/2 Earths would be required to meet humanity's demands on nature each year. Those demands include renewable resources like food, fuel, land and forests we need to absorb our carbon emissions," reads the Living Planet Report.
It continues: "For more than 40 years, humanity's demand has exceeded the planet's biocapacity - the amount of biologically productive land and sea area that is available to regenerate these resources."
So, just when you've convinced yourself that global warming, if it exists, isn't really all that bad -- and, you can deal with warmer weather and less or more water -- you have to ask yourself, "What about my personal extinction?" Well, what about it, America?
03-04-1948 ~ 06-27-2015
Thanks for the music!
06-24-1922 ~ 06-28-2015
Thanks for the laughs!
05-22-1941 ~ 06-29-2015
Thanks for the music!
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Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2015 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for 13 years was the managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.