To catch up anyone who didn’t know, we are in the middle of a mass extinction (with extinction rates approximately 1000x above background rates). According to an ongoing and wide-reaching population study encapsulating over 10,000 populations over 40 years: we have lost about 52% since 1970. The current mass extinction is no joke, nor is it any secret to most biologists and even some journalists. We call our dire situation the “6th” or anthropocene mass extinction.
Here, we see the topic covered on PBS:
The astute commentator remarks that the current mass extinction ultimately threatens us. Contrary to widely spread fantasy relating to our ability to survive essentially alone on this planet, or move to Mars, our survival is bound to relative biosphere stability. Our survival is intertwined with the survival of many other species.
As Morgan Freeman observed: much is amiss, but there remain reasons to hope. The bad news is that we have to change so much that we honestly need the help of every living person. We need more activists who understand their issues and work for strategic change. We need to stand together, and do more than blame ourselves for the 10% of water and energy that we, not industry or agriculture, use. There is a metaphorical fire burning, and most people are too used to “how things are” to smell the flames.
We are more than consumers: we are humans, and our survival depends on us understanding this on the deepest level. We have responsibility beyond the reach of our dollars, and we have knowledge beyond academic degrees. Part of the reason we don’t smell the smoke is because we live primarily in urban areas (already collapsed ecosystems) and barely notice how many species are dying, and partly because we are so distracted by other issues.
There is a lot of work to be done, but we have to be willing to smell the fire and respond, unlike the famous “interviewees” in the Darley and Latane‘s “smoke and fire” experiment, where 75% of the subjects (believing they were waiting for a job interview) ignored the smoke so as to not cause a fuss. Our survival is worth making a fuss about.