We're Killing Everything, Including Ourselves: Royal Society Sort of Says


photo: loco085/Creative Commons

In case the litany of separate studies showing how bad the ongoing extinction crisis the planet is undergoing, driven for all intents and purposes entirely by humans, really is haven't driven the point home: A new series of content from the Royal Society (h/t to Climate Progress) lays it bare, if not stating it bluntly enough. "There are very strong indications that the current rate of species extinctions far exceeds anything in the fossil record...Never before has a single species driven such profound changes to the habitats, composition and climate of the planet." That's excerpted from the lead piece in the series from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, and here's the entirety of the conclusion (I've stripped the citations for ease of reading in this context):

The planet has always been changing: current patterns of biodiversity are the result of past environmental conditions and ecological and evolutionary constraints. However, current rates and sources of change pose scientists and people in general with new challenges. We must incorporate change into the way we view biodiversity, and learn to distinguish between necessary change and change we should aim to avoid or at the very least mitigate. Extinction per se is an inevitable (and perhaps necessary) process in the balance of the biological diversity contained in the world. It is the mass extinction currently underway, caused by overexploitation of natural resources, that needs to worry us. Similarly, environmental change has always been prevalent, and has helped shape biodiversity patterns of today. In contrast, never before has a single species driven such profound changes to the habitats, composition and climate of the planet. To deal with the challenges raised by these large-scale and intense modifications of the planet, we need to develop quantitative tools to quantify and understand change; we must document change at multiple scales of space, time and organizational levels; and we must develop management tools that take change into account.

Climate Progress goes on talking about the seriousness of the situation--which frankly it's nigh impossible to overstate--but the crucial question is one raised by a commenter there. Paraphrased, how do we get people to care? Richard Brenne suggests more provocative headlines and the one on this post is mostly Brenne's. Thanks.

But does grabbing attention for a few seconds mean people will change? After all, if everything is sensationalized then you start ignoring things that are truly sensational.

I frankly just don't have an answer to the grand and crucial problem of getting each and every one of us to deeply understand the deep and profound, both literal and metaphorical, interconnectedness of existence; to firmly establish the notion that without the very things the rise of our species is destroying--as in all the other species of this planet, we ourselves will die out.

Why is this simple, seemingly self-evident concept so difficult to grasp? Let alone act upon?

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More on Extinction:
20% of World's Plant Species Threatened With Extinction - Yes, Human Activity is Main Cause
Bird Declines Could Signal Coming Mass Extinction
21% of Africa's Freshwater Species Threatened With Extinction (Pics)
China's Giant Panda Could Be Extinct Soon (2-3 Generations)So You Wanna Stop a Massive Extinction? Wear a Condom

Tags: Ecology | Endangered Species | Extinction

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