Quote of the Day: Paul Brown on Extinction

Photo credit: wishymom
Because of population growth and increasing consumption, concentration of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane in our atmosphere are the highest in human history; as are global temperatures. This is not normal climate fluctuation, as fossil-fuel industry shills would have you believe. The rate of species extinction is comparable to mass extinctions that have occurred only five times before, and is likely to exceed those. The total decline of species since the Industrial Revolution will soon be worse than the mass extinction caused by the asteroid impact sixty-five million years ago off the Yucatan peninsula, which wiped out 83% of the species, including the dinosaurs.

Before we came along, species evolved and went extinct for billions of years, creating and filling a diversity of ecological niches. Organisms used energy from the sun to grow and reproduce, recycling the materials needed for life through an interdependent worldwide ecosystem. Mechanisms existed to maintain ecological stability, ensuring that the environment didn't change too fast for evolution to keep up. ...

Our species has flourished, but without realizing it, we've changed our environment too fast for other species to adapt. We're approaching a point where the world's ecosystem will change too fast for even us to adapt. We will become extinct [if we don't] take effective action very soon, before it's too late."

—Paul Brown, Notes from a Dying Planet, 2004-2006: One Scientist's Search for Solutions (2006, iUniverse)

Tags: Biodiversity | Extinction | Quotes


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