Don’t Forget the Planet

While we’re ringing our hands about the future of the nation, let’s not forget the future of the planet. See Eric Levitz, Humanity Is About to Kill 1 Million Species in a Globe-Spanning Murder-Suicide.

Humanity is reshaping the natural world at such scale and rapidity, an estimated 1 million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, according to the U.N. assessment. Climate change is a major driver of all this death, but burning fossil fuels is far from our species’ only method of mass ecocide. We are also harvesting fish populations faster than they can reproduce themselves, annually dumping upward of 300 million tons of heavy metals and toxic sludge into the oceans, introducing devastating diseases and invasive species into vulnerable environments as we send people and goods hurtling across the globe, and simply taking up too much space — about 75 percent of the Earth’s land, and 85 percent of its wetlands, have been severely altered or destroyed by human development.

We need to be certain that the next president and a majority of Congress is prepared to do whatever it takes to save the planet. No more dithering; no more half measures.

For now, we’re still wringing more food out of the Earth than ever before. But we’re also exhausting the ecosystems on which that bounty depends — land degradation is sapping the agricultural productivity of nearly one-quarter of the Earth’s land mass. The mass death of pollinating insects is already jeopardizing $577 billion in annual crop production. The (now virtually inevitable) deaths of major coral reefs, combined with overfishing, will soon remove a major source of protein from the diets of billions.

See also Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace in the New York Times.

6 thoughts on “Don’t Forget the Planet

  1. I think we need to think about how we've basically been going through "The Seven Deadly Sins" on our way to this murder-suicide.

    But I'll leave the Judeo-Christian interpretations to the great Swami.

    The planet won't care whether we continue to exist.  All that humans built will be gone in a matter of centuries – if not decades.  New species will arise.

    And who knows?  Maybe a more intelligent, less rapacious and violent species will become civilized.

    But, we can't give up.  We still have a bit of a window before all environmental hell comes down on our heads.  Maybe…



  2. When I get those weird 'what issues should we be running on?' surveys from the Democratic Committee, I write in blood-red letters across the "pick just three" bubbles and the "reach out to disenchanted voters" options, 


    It's really horrifying how few of our politicians are running on the climate problem. I live in a coastal area, and it's eerie contemplating the loss of property values and infrastructure that looms just a few decades ahead in neighborhoods like mine, which will be under water sooner than anyone would like to think — or plan for. And that's nothing compared to the drying out of the farm belt (i.e., FOOD BELT) of the Midwest, and the impact of storms and warmer weather on most of the rest of the country, not to even mention the chaos in the rest of the world, leading to (ya think?) refugee crises, famines, mass deaths, and wars over scarce resources – which the U.S. is not going to be able to ignore or stay clear of.

    And in my little rant above, notice I didn't even give a damn about the million extinct species. They're important, too. Of course. 

  3. I was a precious reader when young, and my reading ability at times outpaced my emotional maturity.   I still do not know, at my age,  if I am emotionally mature enough to handle some issues like climate change and mass extinction.  The real probability of humans creating their own extinction is quite high.  Stephen Hawking, before he left us a year ago, predicted this outcome soon.  He is at a level of modern prophet and did so with the best of understanding of how we got here and the forces at work which determine our outcome.  It looks like his enlightened warning will be ignored and denied away.  Humans just did not seem to evolve far enough and fast enough to avoid being the cancer that consumes their only planet.  

    That the planet will continue and life will re-evolve is an optimistic fantasy at best.  The sequence of highly improbable events that made a livable planet happen at all has almost a zero probability.  That we as a species evolved to even have a few of use understand this fact is a rare fluke.  To expect a re-run is highly unlikely.  The million species that are now facing extinction never evolved that far.  Most humans have not evolved that far either.  Of the few who get a glimmer of understanding of the future,  denial and avoidance is the path they mostly opt for.  Unfortunately, those same primitive minded humans seem to be in power and increasing in power.  I now read that Climate Change denial is rising with the right-wing in Germany.  They, of all humans, got a severe lesson on the consequences of elevating the right-wing to power.  This is not a good sign.  

    Somehow the political trend must be turned.  On the brighter side, if it is not, there will be less and less people or even other life forms on earth to tell what is remaining "I told you so".  Unfortunately, what remains will not understand that either or have the language ability to even say it.  

    This impending tragedy will demand the best humans can muster to avoid.  We will see if we humans are up to the challenge or not.  For now America need to do a 180 fast and set a proper example at least.  Then comes the really hard work.  Yes the W-word.  Work, considered by to many as  the ultimate obscenity.  Not obscene but the only real path to hope for humans.  All the easy paths lead to extinction.  There is a remote possibility we may find this proper path.  Take reassurance that we are only here today, as living humans, having found many highly improbable paths before, but remember also, as the investment prospectus states so boldly,  past performance is no indicator of future success. The first step is step one.  Do the 180 fast. We are going the wrong way.

  4. When I was born there were just over 2.5 billion people on the planet. There are now almost 8 billion. In the 1960s and '70s population growth was a big topic and much of what we're experiencing, including climate change, was predicted. Our record for making large scale social adjustments quickly is not good. For that reason, the planet might well do the adjustments for us. Humans might be clever enough to avoid extinction, but it's certainly not a sure thing.


  5. There's an extremely superficial discussion on cable these days about capitalism and socialism. They never mention the real problem of externalizing the costs. Which is what the environmental impact really is. Unfettered winner take all economics is what got us here

    We cannot turn the ship fast enough even if we had the will which we don't.

  6. I also fear it may be too late to save humans from extinction.  With the increasing population and the ignorance about the need for natural life (water, trees, bees, etc., etc.)  we are literally wallowing in our own waste.  Honestly, I do not  think it will be such a  big loss.  I just grieve for all the other species whose habitat is decreasing simply because humans have attempted to occupy every square inch of this earth.  The animals are innocent.  Not so much humans.  However, life is very adaptable and probably cannot be exterminated completely.  After all science tells us that birds are what is left of the dinosaurs.  What will be left after humans are gone?  Cockroaches!

Comments are closed.