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Global warming might not be so bad after all.

There have been six mass extinctions over the past half billion or so years.  Over 99% of species that ever lived are extinct.   Each major extinction has transitioned in a new era in terms of growth and evolution.  For the most part these mass extinctions did not happen rapidly, but happened over a long period of time relative to human life spans.  We are now in a mass extinction period.  Polar bears, spotted owls and blue whales are not the only species going extinct.  These are among the most popular and visible.

At the same time humans continue to increase in population, use and abuse limited resources, and severely damage the environment.  We are losing a significant number of species.  Here is a short list of environmental catastrophes.

Pollution in the Pacific Gyre – a plastic debris field in the Pacific Ocean estimated to be twice the size of the state of Texas.

Dead zones in the oceans.  According to the UN Environment Programme, there are 146 dead zones in the world oceans where no marine life is supported.  The Gulf of Mexico has a dead zone that is approximately 8500 square miles.  This dead zone is attributed to agricultural runoff from the Midwest which runs into and down the Mississippi river.  

Air and water pollution have increased health problems not only among poor nations, but world wide.  The increase in asthma incidence can be attributed particulate air pollution.  

The use of man made chemicals such as DDT, PCB, Bisphenol A, to name a few, has taken a huge toll on the health of people, animals and the planet.

These examples are by no means the only examples of environmental catastrophe happening right now.  As humans continue to increase in population, continue to live the way we do, the earth cannot sustain itself.  The ecosphere we live in cannot be sustained the way we are going.  

As man made pollutants add to the increasing global climate change, the earth will change dramatically.  Not only will weather change, but entire ecosystems will change.  What is now good farm land may become desert.  What is now beach front property in Florida will become underwater recreational parks.  This change will increase the rate of species die off.  It is most likely that we are past the tipping point for global climate change, and the best we may be able to do is contain it and slow it down.  We are in a mass extinction period.

Interestingly, mass extinctions are followed by significant evolutionary leaps.  As one dominant animal type dies off, another moves in to take its place.  During the first mass extinction, a significant amount of invertebrate life died off.  It was the last major extinction that gave rise to mammals and birds, and eventually humans.  

What will this current mass extinction allow for?  Will humans and most large mammals die off?  Are humans smart enough to make it through this mass extinction?  It will take a long time to happen.  Any human alive now, will be long dead by the end of this event.  Certainly in tens to hundred thousand years, this planet will be radically different.

Should we be allowed to – do humans deserve to - survive?  

Why do humans believe that we are, or should be “at the top of the food chain?”  Humans have behaved badly over the past several hundred years.  We have so screwed up this planet, between the environmental disasters we have created to the human disasters we have created that the planet is now trying to take it back.  This is mega karma in action.

Originally posted to jimraff on Tue May 26, 2009 at 05:30 PM PDT.



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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips or .... (11+ / 0-)

    Got something better?

    You'll continue to be tormented by the sight of tiny symbols which, when viewed, will cause you to hear words in your head.

    by jimraff on Tue May 26, 2009 at 05:31:18 PM PDT

  •  Was earth made for humanity, or was humanity made (5+ / 0-)

    for earth?

    The traditional Judeo-Christian answer has been the earth was made for humanity.

    If you took the view that humanity was made for the earth then the logical conclusion would be that humanity has outlived its usefulness and should be eliminated before the ecology of earth is totally destroyed.

    Being part of the humanity group, I take the position that the earth is a space ship for humanity and therefore the health of humanity is dependent on the health of mother earth.  

    We shall overcome, someday. Yes we can.

    by Sam Wise Gingy on Tue May 26, 2009 at 05:40:51 PM PDT

  •  I'm not going to worry about all of this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jimraff, rainmanjr

    silly global warming stuff.  I mean, when the earth warms to such a point that the glaciers melt and we have catastrophic flooding of the continents, well, I've started reading the Bible.  This way I can be sure that I will know how to survive in the belly of a whale.

  •  Personally, I think humans are aliens on (5+ / 0-)

    this planet, since we're the only mammals who need clothing and shelter in order to survive.  We are totally destructive in everything we do on this planet and I'm sure we simply don't belong here.  Hopefully, we'll either relocate or die off before we totally destroy all the rest of life on this planet with our greed and over-population.  If we actually figure out how to live in harmony with this environment, before it's too late for us and most other life forms here, that would be a very nice and totally unexpected surprise.


    •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the need for clothing and shelter is due to conditioning in development. Indian peoples used to break through the ice on a river or lake to bathe in the water in winter, and were sometimes known to wear little clothing.

      That is all. Individually, I wish you the best, but collectively, my dearest hope is to outlive you - groovetronica

      by Nulwee on Tue May 26, 2009 at 05:47:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lots of animals need shelter in order to survive. (4+ / 0-)

      Ants, for example.

      The whole problem with your theory of humans being aliens is that we have a fossil record stretching back millions of years showing how we evolved from our primate ancestors.

    •  Well, you may be right.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ....but I'm going to take some Repubs with me!

    •  Living things do not as a rule live in harmony (0+ / 0-)

      They eat all the available food and then starve, or they get overpopulated and succumb to parasites and disease. Until agriculture, that was pretty much our story as well. Humans today come closer than most species to living in harmony with their environment. We control our population with something other than famine and plague--not as well as we should, but better than most other species. We treat our sewage. We bury our garbage.

      We can and must do better, but let's not start rooting for mother nature to purge herself of our species.

      By the way, we are aliens where I live, and the Lenape who lived here before my people certainly did use technology to protect themselves from the cold winters, without which they would never have survived.

      We evolved initially in an extremely warm environment where humans can do just fine without clothing. We've adapted somewhat as we radiated around the world, but nowhere near enough to live unprotected through a New Jersey winter, which is actually pretty mild as these things go.

  •  It makes you contemplate that (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    missLotus, jimraff, ardyess

    assuming the current science is correct, for all of time in the vast majority of the universe and for the vast majority of time in our little corner of the universe, there (are) were no people. We just a tiny infinitessimal little blip in time and space, so apparently things can get along quite well without us . . .  

  •  I was thinking that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jimraff, carpunder

    perhaps we are too stupid to live.  Rather cold and scary but looking at our media  that seems to never exhaust stupidity and looking at our rethugs that just regurgitate it over and over for the happy media it doesn't look good for us.  

    We see further that whereas we could promote better use of resources by simply acknowledging a few truths and prioritizing, instead we are locked into a media debate with dumbasses ruling the day.  We could promote wind and solar fairly easily by putting a new tax rebate for individual solar installations and by putting in wind and wave farms as part of the stimulus.  The former would ensure that we are not at the mercy of the monopolies and the latter would ensure we have plenty of industrial power.

    It would take us off the ethanol subsidy that has contributed to that dead zone in the gulf.  We would also have to promote better farming and more varieties of crops.

    I guess I am really down thinking about our senate and its cast of insane characters.  Whats with the NAMBY crap?  How many terrorists have we created with our stupidity?  Any body have an estimate?

  •  Well... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    missLotus, jimraff, arrows theorem

    Why do humans believe that we are, or should be "at the top of the food chain?"

    The whole idea of a 'food chain' is a bad concept to begin with. It's more of a 'food loop' if anything. We are being eaten all the time by all sorts of parasites, bacteria and the like, which in turn are eaten by other creatures or absorbed into plant roots as nutrients or eaten by fungus after they are dead, but eventually make their way, creature or plant or fungus, via other creatures, plants and fungi, back to us and the cycle repeats.

    But I think you're really asking why humans think we're so important. The reason is because we're genetically predisposed to care about our species more than other species since it helps the whole process of reproduction along.

    •  As Edward Abbey said (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      missLotus, mbayrob, Arken

      to a tape worm, humans exist for the tape worm.

      You'll continue to be tormented by the sight of tiny symbols which, when viewed, will cause you to hear words in your head.

      by jimraff on Tue May 26, 2009 at 05:59:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or as Shakespeare said, Polonius is at supper (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?

        At supper.

        At supper! where?

        Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain
        convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your
        worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all
        creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for
        maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but
        variable service, two dishes, but to one table:
        that's the end.

        Alas, alas!

        A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a
        king, and cat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.

        What dost you mean by this?

        Nothing but to show you how a king may go a
        progress through the guts of a beggar.

        Where is Polonius?

        In heaven; send hither to see: if your messenger
        find him not there, seek him i' the other place
        yourself. But indeed, if you find him not within
        this month, you shall nose him as you go up the
        stairs into the lobby.

        "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

        by mbayrob on Tue May 26, 2009 at 06:17:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Quibble (6+ / 0-)

    If farmland becomes dessert, it will be fattening but not catastrophic. If it becomes desert, that's more problematic.

    Smiting trolls on the tubes since 1977!

    by blue aardvark on Tue May 26, 2009 at 05:51:57 PM PDT

  •  De jure arguments have no relevance (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, missLotus, Arken, jimraff, eshafto

    De facto, we are masters of the planet. Our fate is in our own hands.

    Good luck with that. Perpetually, our technology outstrips our wisdom.

    Smiting trolls on the tubes since 1977!

    by blue aardvark on Tue May 26, 2009 at 05:52:52 PM PDT

  •  Human beings are as natural to the earth... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jimraff, rainmanjr everything else.  If a family is starving and the only thing around to eat is an endangered species, the only question should be how long to roast them.

    Never fall in love with your plan.

    by dov12348 on Tue May 26, 2009 at 06:00:11 PM PDT

  •  Humans have always behaved badly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jimraff, rainmanjr

    I am not sure why you think our bad behavior is only confined to the past few hundred years. Our impact has merely grown in proportion to our numbers.

    An end to the Bush nightmare is only the first step in rebuilding America.

    by DWG on Tue May 26, 2009 at 06:26:24 PM PDT

    •  In the past few hundred years (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DWG, rainmanjr

      we have grown our problems past where we can walk to, and made them global.  You are quite right, our impact as merely grown with our numbers.  At some point those numbers will pass sustainability and decline.  I suspect rather precipitously.

      You'll continue to be tormented by the sight of tiny symbols which, when viewed, will cause you to hear words in your head.

      by jimraff on Tue May 26, 2009 at 06:29:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That has always been the theory (0+ / 0-)

        We will soon exceed the carrying capacity of the planet, particularly with diminishing resources thanks to our greed, waste, and climate change. This will lead to a massive downward correction in population.

        An end to the Bush nightmare is only the first step in rebuilding America.

        by DWG on Wed May 27, 2009 at 12:47:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The debate over global warming (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jimraff, rainmanjr

    is a diversion from the relevant issue, which is Global Poisoning. The environment is being deluged with industrial toxins and carcinogens that degrade the ecology while destroying human health.

    As environmentalists and profiteers endlessly dispute each others facts regarding thermometers, the oceans and the atmosphere are systematically being used as toilets. The consequences of such irresponsibility can be quantified with statistics documenting increases in emphysema, cancer, and other life-attenuating illnesses.

    Until the terms of the debate are redirected from anecdotal tales of global warming woe to the corporate pestilence being spewed into the environment, industry will persist in ruining the planet.

    The most relevant inconvenient truth about the environment - and the one that can gain an electoral majority geared towards substantial action - is that absent corrective measures humanity will be poisoned into extinction.

    •  I suspect that it is already happening (0+ / 0-)

      One oblique reason I support arguments for global climate change, is that by reducing CO2 and other green house gases, we will reduce other pollutants as well.  However, you are right in that the chemical destruction we have brought upon ourselves will cause our extinction.  

      When rats are exposed to phthalates, the dna changes, and gonad shrinkage lasts for as many as 4 generations.  That is a lot of generations that are being changed by the chemicals we are putting in our bodies now.  I suspect that endocrine disrupters are a cause of infertility as well as other related diseases such as endometriosis.  

      I hope the species that are here in several thousand years figure out how to use plastic as food source, and can thrive on the chemicals we have dumped on the land and in the water.

      You'll continue to be tormented by the sight of tiny symbols which, when viewed, will cause you to hear words in your head.

      by jimraff on Tue May 26, 2009 at 07:08:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We are creating artificial methods to battle (0+ / 0-)

      these diseases, trying to cheat Darwin with antibiotics, for one. The overuse of these, feeding cows so they can eat corn without getting sick, very dangerous. Cows were never intended to eat corn.

      There are dozens of ways we are perverting nature by using technology, and each one has serious consequences, but it's methane that will probably kill us, if anything does.

      When the permafrost goes, it's all over except the shouting. I may even live long enough to see The Rapture, and I'm 54.

      We've been poisoned by these fairytales ..

      by shpilk on Tue May 26, 2009 at 10:04:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Environmental destruction is the big wave (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shpilk, jimraff

    approaching humanity.  Meanwhile, it barely gets the attention of our corrupt public officials.

  •  Wow. We have some dominionists among our (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    poll voters. Verrrrry interesting!

  •  Strange moralistic thinking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jimraff, billmosby

    Should we be allowed to – do humans deserve to - survive?  

    Why do humans believe that we are, or should be “at the top of the food chain?”

    What's with the shoulds? Should we be allowed to survive? By whom? We are at the top of the food chain because we prey on other animals and few of them prey on us, and that only rarely. Why do we think we should be there? Idunno, because it's better to eat than to be eaten?

    Should we be allowed to - do we deserve to - survive?

    Most of the diary was pretty good, but you ran into some trouble at the end. The problem with "We are masters of the earth and deserve to do with it as we please" is not that it's incorrect, it's that it's based on an entirely wrong way of looking at the problem, which your statements at the end also share.

    The right way of looking at the problem is not, do we deserve to survive or not. The right way of looking at the problem is, do we want to survive (yes!), and what steps can we take to get what we want?

    If we go extinct, it won't be because we were bad, it will be because we could not or did not prevent our extinction. If we survive, it will not be because we are nice and virtuous, it will be because we were clear-sighted enough, and determined enough.

    •  "don't should on yourself" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Although that's from a 12-step program, it also applies here. But for a different reason. I'm enough of an agnostic to also find it strange to talk in terms of deserving to survive. Did cyanobacteria deserve to survive? From what I read, they transformed the environment far more profoundly that we probably will.

      We'll probably survive, perhaps in small numbers for a time, despite our best efforts to totally destroy our niche. Because our niche is huge and we are adaptable.

      Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

      by billmosby on Tue May 26, 2009 at 08:12:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually I believe the care of the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      environment is absolutely a moral duty.  If the only reason to survive is because we want to, that is all we will do - survive.

      If we believe it is our moral duty to ensure survival, not only humans as a species, but earth as an ecosystem, ensuring bio-diversity as best we can, we will more than survive.

      You'll continue to be tormented by the sight of tiny symbols which, when viewed, will cause you to hear words in your head.

      by jimraff on Tue May 26, 2009 at 08:40:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Despite what I said above, I do too. (0+ / 0-)

        However, we are in a tiny minority. I'll just have to quote Agent K again: "a person is smart, people are stupid."

        Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

        by billmosby on Tue May 26, 2009 at 09:48:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Necessity for taking the long view (0+ / 0-)

        Anything we do today to mitigate greenhouse gases is a gift to future generations.

        If we succeed in converting the atmosphere to CO2 then survival of humans and other mammals is in doubt.  Yes, technology could enable us to make biospheres, but that assumes the present steel and concrete civilization survives.  As oxygen decreases due to ocean acidification from excess carbon, survival is not by any means a done deal.

        Amory Lovins: "Coal can fill the real gaps in our fuel economy....." IPCC: Anthropogenic greenhouse gases will cause extinction of up to 70% of species by 2050.

        by Plan9 on Wed May 27, 2009 at 07:54:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Permafrost melts, it's FUN FUN FUN in the sun! (0+ / 0-)

    Climate Threat: Thawing Tundra Releases Infected Corpses

    Smallpox is just one possibility of all the secrets held in the frozen wastes of the north. Viruses, bacteria, stuff modern humans may have never encountered, waiting to greet us. Yummy.

    And then, there's always methane.
    The human race, obliterated by effectively what is a huge fart from Mother Earth.

    No one light a match, OK?

    We've been poisoned by these fairytales ..

    by shpilk on Tue May 26, 2009 at 09:58:48 PM PDT

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