by Mike Gray
In an article on LiveScience, senior writer Jeremy Hsu offers a muted jeremiad against our rapacious species:
Mass extinctions have served as huge reset buttons that dramatically changed the diversity of species found in oceans all over the world, according to a comprehensive study of fossil records. The findings suggest humans will live in a very different future if they drive animals to extinction, because the loss of each species can alter entire ecosystems.
Some scientists have speculated that effects of humans — from hunting to climate change — are fueling another great mass extinction. A few go so far as to say we are entering a new geologic epoch, leaving the 10,000-year-old Holocene Epoch behind and entering the Anthropocene Epoch, marked by major changes to global temperatures and ocean chemistry, increased sediment erosion, and changes in biology that range from altered flowering times to shifts in migration patterns of birds and mammals and potential die-offs of tiny organisms that support the entire marine food chain.
So the human race—and not giant asteroids or supernovae—may have already initiated an irreversible mass extinction. For the first time in history, according to this theory, our species can be blamed for driving animals to extinction and altering whole ecosystems by changing global temperatures and ocean chemistry, as well as other depredations upon nature.
Be afraid, be very afraid:
… the ongoing extinction crisis of modern times goes far beyond the background extinction rate. [Researcher] Alroy noted that it could not only wipe out entire branches of evolutionary history, but may also change the ecosystems shaped by each species.
That means today’s species matter for environments around the world, and so humans can’t simply expect replacements from the diverse species of the future.
No replacements? What about Jurassic Park?
Until now, “environmentalists” would make baseless claims accusing mankind of destroying individual species (cf. Rachel Carson); with this new “data,” they’re widening the charge to ecocide. If “ecocide” isn’t already an actionable legal violation, just give the United Nations a little more time; then, when you change the oil in your car, you could be up on charges at the World Court.