Saturday, 19 October 2019

THE 7th MASS EXTINTION - CAN HUMANS POSTPONE IT?

     Yes we can!
    We homo sapiens do suffer crippling faults including many deniers who worship the God of Greed, putting short-term gains ahead of long-term survival. But, remarkably, we are very unique species, the sole known one ever capable of recognizing, planning, and effecting needed changes. The empathy of billions now plunging into the vital remedial task needs, deserves, and must have our support.
     The Press labels this current extinction the 6th, ignoring the first cyanobacteria one, so let me call it the 7th. This blog is an update of Blog 192 “Climate Change War Mobilization” of 16 December 2018.
     We cannot escape unpleasant sacrifices, but, as this time we humans have and are causing the problem, we must all accept the remedial cost. Bright as we are, we do need much help from all the data we can unearth. Open, co-operative minds are essential. We humans are one fragile species; we have one fragile home. To differ peacefully is progressive; to militarize differences is suicidal.
     Cruelly, the odds against Life are staggering. Continuous care must be a top priority. A brief summary: Recently, we re-computed that our universe of over 1,400,000,000,000,000, stars started with a Big Bang 3.5 billion not the 4.5 billion years ago (bya) we calculated just a few years ago. But now Australians tells us they have hard evidence that their oldest rocks dating back to 3.48 bya contain well-preserved fossilized microorganisms. Life arrived so soon?
     Among all of the septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets) in our Milky Way Galaxy (1 of 100 trillion galaxies), ours is the only yet-known one with a biome that permitted the origin and growth of Life. This precious biosphere extends over 19 km down in seas and rock and 64 km into the atmosphere, Here, some 5 billion species evolved of which 99% are now extinct, yet we estimate that from 10 to 14 million species exist today. We still seek a meaning and purpose for all this.
     The first mass extinction of life started about 2.5 bya when cyanobacteria evolved to manufacture a poisonous gas – oxygen - but took 100 million years to pollute the atmosphere enough to kill off most of those teeming prokaryotes, eukaryote, archaea, and bacteria species that were single-celled without a nucleus. Survivors still exist in deep, oxygen-free seas and rock. Enough carbon was also inserted into the atmosphere to plunge the world into an extended ice age.
     This current 7th extinction is already threatening a million species, yet it really is not due for a few million years as many other cyclical factors contribute such as continental drift, shape of orbit, tilt of earth, volcanic activity, asteroid impacts, and sea levels. Carelessly, our species has excelled in creating the factors, such as excessive carbon, methane, contaminant emissions, overpopulation of humans and cattle, and misuse of water that are accelerating its deadly attack.
     The beginning of the explosion of life based on oxygen is placed about 542 million years ago, (mya) during the Cambrian period at the start of the Paleozoic era, the same time the Ediacarans (earliest known complex multi-cellular organisms, 635-542 mya) disappeared from the worldwide fossil record.
      The first mass extinction of oxygen-based life came 443 mya at the end of the Ordovician period when 85% of all species were lost. The second was 359 mya at the end of the Devonian period when 75% perished, the third was 252 mya at the end of the Permian period, the 4th was 200 mya ending the Triassic period, the 5th was 66 mya at the end of the Cretaceous period, killing 76%.
     Additionally, Nature has persecuted humans: Chronic pain infects 1/5th of the world humans. Some 322 million suffer from depression. Annually, 7.9 million human infants (6% of all births) are born with serious birth defects. Almost 800,000 adults die annually by suicide which is 1.4% of all deaths. So cruel!
     Heaven, hell, and purgatory are all here together, created by Nature, numerous life forms, and humans. Evolution, we could presume, favours selfish genes to promote survival. Why, then, do so many species exhibit empathy? Warm blooded birds, cats, chimps, dogs, dolphins, elephants, lambs, marmosets, rats, voles, wolves will all make sacrifices to feed, assist wounded, or just befriend others including other species. Humans, especially the young, are now accelerating empathy, so there is hope But, we need to correct many areas where we are falling short of steering this planet towards the paradise it is in a few small areas that need global enlargement.
       Far too many humans have joined Nature in harboring indifference to Life. They have concluded
that we are doomed because we cannot win against powerful vested interests controlling us throughout history, so have resigned themselves to grabbing what they still can from life for the immediate future. We must not allow this attitude prevail. Our task is all encompassing and starts with the vital, time consuming, job of parenting that implants loving bonding, and respect for other things, animate and inanimate.
     Our 7th Mass Extinction: With the main exemption of the Trump administration in the USA that considers the environment a source of profit, most of the rest of the world including most of the USA, with varying degrees of dangerous foot dragging, are embracing actions to delay the pace.
Activists and Organizations fighting Climate Change continue to grow. Wikipedia lists 516 organizations fighting climate change (16 governmental, 83 non governmental, another 21 continental, then another 396 national).
     Added to my blog 192 on Climate Change are: The United Nations’ International Panel On Climate Change, the UN Environmental Programme, and the World Meteorological Organization that lead the fight, ably assisted by a multitude of others including: The Green Climate Fund, designed in 2014 with the goal of raising $100 billion by 2020 to help developing countries fight climate change. Its HQ was built in Incheon, South Korea. Led by the EU and USA, 48 countries joined and promised funds. Obama pledged $3.5 billion of which the $2 billion still pending was withdrawn by Trump who complained it was a scheme to drain money from rich to poor countries. Some other pledges: Japan 15.4b, Sweden $4b, Norway $1.7b, Germany 1b, Hungary $1b, France $775m, UK $720m, Canada $277m, Australia 200m.
     One case, typical of the inaction that 16-year-old Swedish Greta Thunberg is leading the world to rectify is: The Grand Banks off Newfoundland teemed with cod and haddock discovered for the world in 1497 by John Cabot. (Giovanni Caboto a Venetian explorer employed by England). Settlements from England grew with shipbuilding and other fish industry jobs as well as trawler visits from other European countries plus Japan and China. harvesting 200,000 tons annually. World War II ceased attempts to regulate larger trawlers. By 1968 swarms of trawlers were taking 800,000 tons annually. All knew this was unsustainable but the government procrastinated fearful of losing jobs. By 1974 the take fell to 300,000 tons. Canadian jurisdiction was extended from 12 to 200 miles offshore but did not prevent a total collapse in 1993 forcing a total shutdown. Only now are stocks recovering to permit very limited fishing. Many of the 40,000 who left the area went to work in the tar sands of Alberta thus increasing the setbacks to controlling global climate.
     Greenpeace deserves high praise, Founded in Vancouver, BC, in 1971 it has offices in over 39 countries and over 3 million volunteers with international HQ in Amsterdam. As it accepts no funds from political parties, governments, or corporations, it relies on foundations and followers to finance its goal of helping our Earth nurture life in all its diversity. It has operated 4 ships to discourage, and bring world attention to, over fishing, commercial whaling, deforestation, nuclear proliferation, and genetic engineering, but Greenpeace also revealed the need to police members. It prompted 100 Nobel laureates to demand it moderate its stand after 3 members destroyed in 2011 a test plot of modified wheat near Canberra, Australia. Greenpeace activists outraged Peru by damaging delicate Nazca Lines (alien navigational aids?) when performing a publicity stunt during Dec 2014 climate talks in Lima.
     The United Nations 2019 Ranking of 57 Nations on Climate Protection used 14 indicators within 4 categories: Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Total Energy Use, Renewable Energy Use, and Climate Policy. It reveals the enormity of what needs to be done.
     Sweden leads with a score of only 76.28, Saudi Arabia is last with a 8.62 score. Other rankings;
    70’s:   Morocco, Lithuania.
    60’s:   Latvia, UK, Switzerland, Malta, India, Norway, Finland, Croatia, Denmark, EU, Portugal,                   Ukraine,
    50’s:   Luxembourg, Romania, France, Brazil. Italy, Egypt, Mexico, Slovakia, Germany,
              Netherlands, Belarus, Greece, Belgium,
 40’s:     Czech Republic, China, Argentina, Spain, Austria, Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa,                          Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, New Zealand, Estonia, Cyprus, Algeria, Ireland, Japan, Turkey,
  30’s     Malaysia, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia,
  20’s:    Taiwan, Korea, Iran,
  10’s:    United States,
  00’s:    Saudi Arabia.
     It is sad, shameful, terrifying, unbelievable, and many other adjectives that the United States ranks second to last in spite of its millions of informed, intelligent, and activist citizens. How can they be so ineffective? In spite of all the increases in numbers and ferocity of floods, fires, droughts, storms, and with almost all scientists warning we have only 12 years to contain the steady rise in temperatures that can kill all life, just 70% believe the climate is changing and only 60% believe it is due to human activity.
     Far too many are lured into distrust of government and its ballot box. They claim politicians are all talk, avid fund raisers, controlled by vested interests, but with no meaningful action on vital issues, The Democratic debates revealed over a score of presidential hopefuls united in their promises to enforce positive climate actions. Needed election reforms: compulsory voting, voting day a holiday, no fund raising, candidates granted equal stipends from taxes,
     A current Reuters poll finds that almost 70%, including a majority of Republicans, want the US to take aggressive action to combat climate change - but only a third would support an extra tax of $100 a year to help. It will cost far more than that whether we survive or perish.
    Many have spent large sums in taking environment-friendly actions in acquiring fuel efficient appliances, homes, cars, and travel. Greta Thunberg led us again by taking 2 weeks to sail across the Atlantic via boat instead of flying to officiate at climate activities in North and South America. She met with the mayors of Calgary and Edmonton to argue the need to replace the tar sands industry so vital to the economy while they pointed out the increasingly high environmentally-friendly restrictions in place, higher than other world fossil fuel sources. Healthy compromises are urgently required. An example of small, but rapidly growing, action is the fact that 7.3 million (3.2% of population) have given up meat. 
     Gross inequality is yet another unacceptable thorn. For instance: In 10 seconds, Jeff Bezos, the owner and founder of Amazon, makes more money than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year. We live in a time when millions of Americans, including many Amazon employees, are working 2 or 3 jobs to feed their families while the three wealthiest people in this country own more wealth than the bottom half. How do we ensure the inevitable revolution is orderly and peaceful? Thanks partially to Trump, Amazon will pay no taxes this year.
     The enormity of fighting climate change and maintaining a life style worth living also demands we cease such inhumane crimes as are waging, especially in Hong Kong, Palestine, Spain, Syria, Yemen, as well as corruption, control of oligarchs, inappropriate behavior, discrimination, Mexican drug wars, and so on.
     The price is high but necessary.     On with the task!
PS I have just learned that the next G7 summit meeting will be held in 2020 in a Trump hotel in Florida and that mention of climate change will not be included. This is abject surrender and must not be tolerated. This 46th meeting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US represents 58% of the world’s wealth. The rotating head of the group will be the USA in 2020, so it gets to host the meet, but should never dictate the agenda.
                                                                                                                         Ye Olde Scribe
                                                                                                  georgesweanor@comcast.net














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