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View Diary: What's possible for humanity? vs. What's in it for me? (52 comments)

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  •  I did some drill-down on extinction rates... (6+ / 0-)

    for classes of vertebrates.

    Things with backbones might not surivive the Anthropocaust

    Now, a caveat: I’m not saying 90% of all species are going to go buh-buh. Hardly. If you’re an arthropod or a mollusk or a cephalopod or a jellyfish, the future’s probably going to play out nicely for you. Not for all of your species but, hey. Life rolls like that.

    It just won’t roll for vertebrates for much longer. Last I checked, that means humans.

    Now, what happened the last time large numbers of vertebrate species bought the farm? That would be the dinosaur extinction or K-T event, where 30% of all life and 100% of dinos punched their clocks. How long did that take? Given the near-consensus mechanism of a big ole rock smacking down near the current-day Mexican Riviera,..probably the big dinos died quickly and smaller ones petered out over time. It probably took a few million years for the evolutionary chaos to sort out, the resulting being the fossil evidence in the wake of the K-T Event is very, very sparse. There’s a paleontological gold mine out there waiting to be found but no one’s found it yet.

    We’re not following the same pattern, yet. But we could… at least for ourselves. We could have that good ole fashioned Global ThermoChemoBioNuclear War. That would accelerate a lot of individual life extinction events. It would collapse more than a few ecosystems. And despite the occasional “the Earth would be better off if Humanity just up and died” comment, there is a nonzero risk that a short nuclear winter would be followed within 1-3 years by a nuclear summer.

    My own opinion is we made this mess. We keep making it. Many among our educated classes are darn proud of the evidence of ‘making an impact’, even if a bad one. It means they have hands on a power to hurt people they don’t like by wrecking the world around them.  Oh, they might not… if they get concessions… assurances…more of the respect they feel due…

    Yet such people ought to look at the clock. Even if they style themselves cold-blooded, they’re still mammals. And mammals are among the first class of critters to walk the evolutionary plank, the way said cold cruel types are piloting the ship.

    (Oh, look. Iceberg. Perhaps we should load up the lifeboats with our bling and set them aside, just in case…)

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