Extinction Machine: Fixable?

04/15/2015 01:23 pm ET | Updated Jun 15, 2015

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the world's leading political, scientific and economic factions, are approaching the subject of accelerating, human-caused environmental collapse and impending mass extinction as a set of problems whose solution and remedy will likely be found in technical innovation and change. Unfortunately, the decimation of nature by human activity does not reduce to mistakes that can be fixed. To think so, is a blatant and very predictable instance of the failed, unawakened human perspective that has brought us to the current position. A perspective based on fiction.

Natural habitats, ecosystems and living species that have evolved over millions of years, only to be quickly and casually annihilated in the wake of human profit driven activity, do not bounce back with the application of quick technical fixes. They disappear and do not resurrect.

The dominant headline issues in the environmental collapse scenario, facing the world today, are climate change and global warming -- a staggering reality that strongly suggests deep, perhaps, irrevocable, core changes in global ecosystem dynamics. Unfortunately, as dire as the consequences of accelerating climate change are, for sustaining life, it is only one of a myriad of human-caused factors unbalancing the global environment with equally significant and disturbing consequences.

New research (University of Edinburgh) suggests that extreme volcanic activity altered the Earth's oceans and triggered the greatest extinction of all time. The event, which occurred 252 million years ago, wiped out more than 90 percent of marine species and more than two-thirds of land animals. It happened when Earth's oceans absorbed huge amounts of carbon dioxide from volcanic eruptions. Dramatically rising acidification of the oceans now, caused by increased carbon dioxide levels; a consequence of burning fossil fuels, is driving similarly grave consequences.

Acidification, combined with diminishing oxygen levels, attributable to global warming... plus the quantifiable reality that as much as 13 million tons of plastic garbage and other toxic industrial waste flow into the oceans every year, (the annual output could get 10 times bigger over the next decade).... well... yes; there is a limit to sustainability, even in environments as vast as the planet's oceans. Scientists predict, that at current rates of degradation (which, by the way, are increasing), all salt water fish will be extinct by 2048.

The loss of large forest tracts has wrought dramatic, negative consequences for biodiversity and is one of the primary drivers of the global extinction crisis. Additionally, deforestation markedly spikes carbon dioxide levels in the global atmosphere, thereby accelerating acidification of the oceans and the degradation of the overall atmospheric balance necessary to sustain life, i.e. breathable air. The problem, according to new research, published in Science Advances, is that the vast majority of surviving forests are fragmented. Remaining forests are increasingly isolated from each other by expanses of transformed lands and are being reduced to continuously diminished, smaller patches. The damaging loss of large forests resonates far beyond the immediate footprint of deforestation. Fragmentation reduces biodiversity by up to 75%, precipitating the extinction risk of millions of forest species.

These issues are merely the tip of a massive iceberg in the complex, accelerating, destabilization and collapse of the global environment. They are not going to evaporate, reverse themselves, or be absorbed by an infinitely benevolent, forgiving nature.

Given the reality, of a world, controlled by profit -driven industries and governed by their political/legislative stewards, the possibility that humanity will somehow awaken from its larval slumber and with near unanimous intent, rally and harness all of its ingenuity and effort to retool civilization and navigate a path of sustainability that might tip the balance toward survival rather than extinction, seems, at this point... unlikely. The window is closing. The wakeup call is blaring.

Earth's environment, like any other natural system, will seek and ultimately find a new balance. Which, if any, of the elements of this cycle will be carried forward into the new, is completely unknowable.

It appears, with striking accuracy, that beneath the veneer of denial, indifference and non-responsibility, there exists a deep recognition of the true predicament of contemporary man; the fear and loathing of brainwashed automata -- numb, consuming, rapacious, blindly stumbling and colliding, preying upon each other, at the edge of oblivion. Unwittingly, the collective unconscious often manifests deeply held recognitions at the surface level, in expressions of art, literature and popular entertainment. Here we are:

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Joseph Carlisi's book, "Playing God on the Eve of Extinction", is available from Amazon.