Source: A Human-Driven Mass Extinction: Good Or Bad?By Adam Frank, January 28, 2014, npr.org.
This National Public Radio news story looked at whether the current human-caused mass extinction is good or bad for the planet. Many scientists think we are in the middle of the sixth great extinction die-offs on the planet. The past extinctions were triggered by giant asteroids impacts and rapid, devasting volcanism. This time is caused by humans, you and me.
Chris Thomas is one of the ecologists who first recognized the present human caused mass extinction. In 2004, he projected a rise of 2 degrees in global temperature would commit millions of plant and animal species to extinction.
This would be very sad to lose so much biological diversity and so many plants and animals species whom we share the planet. However, even worse, current climate change and this mass extinction is a danger to our civilization.
Here is how the writer of this article, Adam Frank describes it:
"This uber-technological civilization we have constructed so quickly is a network of networks (energy, transportation, economic, information and social networks). We all rely on those networks to keep food appearing in grocery stores and electricity flowing into the plugs in walls.
To scientists studying the overlapping webs that define civilization, it has become clear how vulnerable these systems are to not just risk but hyperrisk — the cascade of failures that can be triggered by even small disruptions. Thus, the real dilemma we face is keeping this machine we call civilization working in a rapidly changing natural world."
The emphasis on reducing climate change is a question of sustainability. What we often miss is that what we're trying to sustain is us."
This is our call to action then from Frank:
"In the end, our ability to recognize, explicitly and exactly, what's at stake will determine our ability to respond effectively to the climate change we are creating. We will have to understand our place in nature with far more acuity than the fist-and-hammer approach we've used for the past few hundred years."
With our civilization at stake, shouldn't we do all we can to limit the impact of climate change?
Image Source: Brian Ettling