Thrive Global
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Thrive Global

Are We Truly In The End Times, Now?

The Sixth Extinction, our common era of a Climate Changed world, is here

The Rusty Bumblebee, Bombus Affinis, is now an endangered species, Credit: Christyl Rivers

Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer price winning book, The Sixth Extinction, outlines how human beings are ending our planet. More importantly, it explains that we don’t have to destroy our planet. We just need to recognize the damage we are inflicting. Then, stop that.

But we’re not wired that way. Instead, we choose short term gains, a tragically over-consumption of the commons, and projection of our sins upon others.

Some people recognize this and are rising to the challenge, but meanwhile, too many species are extinguished each day. We lose an average of 200 species per day, and at a more accelerated rate in the Anthropocene, than when the Chicxulub asteroid took out the dinosaurs some sixty-six million years ago.

We might as well just go there — to the end times — and say that prior last extinction, known as the K-Pg impactor, for people who can’t pronounce Chicxulub, happened on Friday the thirteenth, 666 million years ago. On the other hand, our superstitions, and just plain stupidity, haven’t served us all that well. We lose biodiversity because we need resources, and to all former, less populace generations, our options previously appeared without limit.

As California is aflame, and the Gulf regions, East coasts, Puerto Rico, and more, are still cleaning up after warming related weather events. It is almost surreal that people go on as if life were normal. But that is what we are programed to do. It is exhausting to wake up every day wondering who flooded out or burned, or who died from poor air, or water, quality. It is stressful and not a good survival mechanism. A few of us do wake up every single day and face this.

Some other people who are concerned will search relentlessly for scapegoats, rather than seizing empowerment for actions we can take and influence we can wield. We might just have some world leaders who whiff this nationalistic trend (We first!) and ride a rocket ran to populist power.

‘They’re not bringing their best’, …which is critical thinking skill

We invariably blame one another, the ‘other’ irresponsible political party, or we blame those other people who “not us”: migrants, s-hole countries, adherents to Islam, or Judaism, or Christianity… Or, sooner or later, we will blame the invisible, globally grabby, reptilian puppet monsters that pull all of our easily manipulated strings. So much for giving up stupidity.

The first five extinctions happened between sixty-five million, (65 mya), and five hundred and forty, (540 mya), million years ago. Biodiversity usually takes a few million years to recover from mass extinctions, but in the case of the Permian-Triassic Extinction — the biggest one ever occurring — the majority of all life on earth expired. It took up to thirty million years for biodiversity to return to the state at which we found it as we all poured out of Africa and started up with some major mischief.

Our first major mischief was agriculture. Hunting and gathering is less destructive upon lands because we kept on the move. When settling into farming locations, we developed rules about land possession. The Kings and priests, the patriarchs, always controlled the richest production. Finally, we invented states and empires, and these notoriously spilled blood in conquest, and carried epidemics by interaction with those who had no immunity. Of course, we also quickly depleted the lands of forests, mega-fauna, birds, beasts, and wilderness.

It sounds like we are terrible people. But we’re not. Or, we were — perhaps — but some people began to think and evaluate the nature of reality. A few developed sciences. A few more began to examine ethics. They began to question whether “inferior” people should have a say, and even whether we ourselves are animals that perfected speech and writing.

Charles Darwin explained how biological organisms evolved, but many could not handle that truth. And he apparently failed to effectively show how much damage a dominating species that changes an environment can influence.

Nevertheless, each step upon the way, we began to comprehend the anguish of the dominated and depleted. Slowly, not without a lot of fuss, we stopped torturing heretics, enslaving others, and burning witches (Yes, it still happens, but now, it’s frowned upon). We developed an affinity for the causes of independence, liberty and diversity. We even assimilated one another’s religions, but it is still debated as to whether we should be so entranced with an after-life that we pay so little regard to the one in which we have created the end times.

The lack of a Pandemonium Production Schedule

The end times don’t look enough like a Hollywood blockbuster. This is a problem, because rather than people in chaos, we all march calmly to our jobs while the newsfeeds of the world display far away mayhem in a town that (for now) is not our own neighborhood. We are affected, of course, but higher prices, like the fewer and fewer animals we are seeing, creep ever so slowly to an edge. Then, BAM! We should have paid attention to the destruction production chain of events.

Now we have rising seas, acid-bleached reefs, pollution and depletion of lands and oceans. A bigger problem is the lack of a system to distribute food and resources fairly, and a disregard for those in need who are the most vulnerable to our profligate ways. While more and more land is lost to biodiversity, more and more impoverished people become more desperate. These are the people most vulnerable already, and they tend to be in those locations where carbon footprints are less weighty, as mass consumption of retail goods is less prominent.

Sink or Swim

When an organism knows the problem, it can self-correct. Our malady is that we are either indifferent or impassioned for some non-existent winner takes all scenario. Finding that we can be creative to collaborate with mutual benefit dispels the zero-sum game mentality.

There is no better way to recognize a forest, or ocean cyanobacteria and algae, as your kin then to breathe in the oxygen they create, and also recognize the carbon dioxide you (and all our cows and motors) expel is dispersed in the carbon sinks of trees and seas. We either sink, or swim, with the rising seas. We either quickly learn to compassionately protect one another and the biodiversity that sustains us, or we overwhelm the carbon sinks with our carelessness.

Many of us are discovering the survival mechanism of creating, collaborating and cooperating. It is what nature was showing us all along, we just needed to listen to Mom Earth.



Opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees.

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Christyl Rivers, Phd.

Ecopsychologist, Writer, Farmer, Defender of reality, and Cat Castle Custodian.