Extinction Practitioners

June 19, 2015

648909_9122271_lzClear, bright and windy this Friday afternoon on California’s north coast — the breeze a bit on the chilly side, seeping off the deep-gray fog bank hanging low about a block away from my apartment, looking like its ready to roll over us.
Summer season here with its daily routine of fog, wind and sunshine, mostly in that order.

Weather a topic this week with Pope Francis letter of climate-change intent, and the unsurprising announcement that last month was the warmest May since records started — about 135 years — and 2015 is already shaping up as the warmest year on record, surpassing last year’s record scorch.
Dr. Jeff Masters at WunderBlog: ‘As of June 15, 2015, eight nations or territories have tied or set all-time records for their hottest temperature in recorded history thus far in 2015, and one (Israel) has set an all-time cold temperature record. For comparison, only two nations or territories set all-time heat records in 2014, and nine did in 2013.’

(Illustration found here).

Although the pope’s letter published yesterday (some leakage earlier this week) was a top news story, it was over-shadowed in coverage by the church massacre in South Carolina Wednesday night — even still, Francis’ timing couldn’t have been more timely.
Via CNN:

While slamming a slew of modern trends — the heedless worship of technology, our addiction to fossil fuels and compulsive consumerism — the Pope said humanity’s “reckless” behavior has pushed the planet to a perilous “breaking point.”
“Doomsday predictions,” the Pope warned, “can no longer be met with irony or disdain.”
Citing the scientific consensus that global warming is disturbingly real, Francis left little doubt about who to blame.
Big businesses, energy companies, short-sighted politicians, scurrilous scientists, laissez faire economists, indifferent individuals, callous Christians and myopic media professionals.
Scarcely any area of society escaped his withering criticism.
“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” Francis said.
“In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.”

And has won great praise from people with half-a-brain. Francis is head of the biggest scam in history, so why not roll with the times? This same message has been blaring for decades — but the pope is the fucking pope. Unless you’re a Republican.
The GOP has devolved into an entire subspecies of such ugly shit, it’s amazing — denying both climate change, and racism.
No small wonder we’re up shit creek without a paddle.

Hence, and speaking of species, sub or otherwise, today results were released of another ‘new‘ study, which in reality was just confirmation of previous research — we are on the short-end of the stick, and we’re to blame.
From US News and World Report this afternoon:

From rhinos to tigers to elephants, three out of four “familiar” animal species — those commonly thought of and well understood by human beings — will be extinguished within three human lifetimes, a new study finds, confirming that Earth is in the midst of what’s become known as the “sixth mass extinction” driven by runaway development, shrinking animal habitats and climate change.
“Scientists never like to say anything for sure, but this is close as we’re ever going to get to saying, ‘We’re certain that this is a huge problem,’” says study coauthor Anthony Barnosky, a paleontologist at the University of California-Berkeley, calling the problem “quite dire.”
The hundreds of species eliminated in the past century alone would otherwise have lasted at least another 800 to 10,000 years, the study found.
Coral reefs “are in danger of annihilation” as soon as 2070, Barnosky says, potentially erasing a quarter of the ocean’s species.
The last mass extinction occurred 66 million years ago with the end of the dinosaurs.
This is the only one, however, where a single species is responsible for the destruction of all the others.
And by eliminating biodiversity, it threatens to disrupt the pollination, water purification, food chain and other “ecosystem services” that humanity’s “beautiful, fascinating and culturally important living companions” provide, the study says – threatening human life itself.

But this latest effort is by far the most conservative: a study aimed at debunking any possible rebuttal that its findings are “alarmist.”

“We’re not only in the midst of a sixth major extinction, we’re moving further and further into it,” says Bruce Stein, senior director of climate adaptation and resilience at the National Wildlife Foundation.
“It’s clear that we are going to lose a lot of things, but it’s also clear that we have the ability to ensure that many of our systems will be different but will continue to have ecological functionality and continue to support many of these species.”

Although discussion of animal life, coral reefs and all, but what about the extinction of humans?
Previous studies already indicated mass-extinction shit was happening, and maybe at a quicker pace. Last year, New Yorker environmental writer Elizabeth Kolbert’s, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” also laid blame for this catastrophic situation on us humans: ‘“No other creature has ever managed this, and it will, unfortunately, be our most enduring legacy.”
There is no way to know just how many species there are on earth – roughly 1.3 million animals have been described since 1758. A study last September, however, found the number of wild animals had likely been halved in just the past 40 years.

The real-bottom line from the new extinction study comes from the last line in the abstract: ‘Averting a dramatic decay of biodiversity and the subsequent loss of ecosystem services is still possible through intensified conservation efforts, but that window of opportunity is rapidly closing.’

How do we know that window isn’t closed already?
Hope, optimism, and so forth, springs eternal…no?

(Illustration out front found here).

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