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Extinction

Remember when those hippie activists noticed there was a giant damned hole in the ozone layer that we need for our survival... then they campaigned to get spray cans of shit banned... and everyone complained... but the ozone layer has repaired itself.


Or remember when all fast food came in those styrofoam, but then nerds starting getting all nerdy about them because you'd find them washed up on even the most far-flung beaches everywhere on the planet... So all the styrofoam got replaced with paper and everyone bitched for a bit and then forgot about it.


Hey, or remember how climate scientists have been saying for decades and decades now that there is a literal ongoing mass-extinction event that humanity is the direct cause of... but nothing happened. Because it would be too hard.


A total overhaul of our financial systems and markets, changing education and health-care around both due to their interconnectedness with the previous two, but on their own merit. We'd have to change how we shop, how we consume. And most definitely how we eat, the resources that go into the growth, shipment, slaughter, more shipment, packaging, more shipment, etc of our food and what winds up as waste.


Look at how we travel, how we commute and therefore work.


We need definite investment into alternative fuels now... shit-tons of investment. Because that investment will take a while to pay off and the clock is ticking.


Our dependence on petroleum, and energy, and meat, and stuff... ever and always more stuff. It's killing us and taking out tens and hundreds of thousands of species with us.


We need to stop reproducing. The population of the world has doubled in my lifetime: 40 years... 4 billion more people. So there's 8 now... and you think you're having problems getting a seat on the train now? When there's 16 billion of us anyone without a 1/2 dozen state-mandated roommates and has seen a piece of fresh fruit in passing within the past year, will probably be able to count themselves as lucky.


Yep. Too hard.


But now even the most ardent climate deniers are having a hard time trying desperately to ignore the reality of the world around them. The world that climate scientists have been warning us all about.


Half a continent is on fire while the other half is flooded. Cities all over the world are experiencing unequalled and dangerous temperatures. Dust cloud settling across the entire eastern seaboard of the US. Storm systems get stronger and stronger and far more frequent.


Yeah, I know they're still out there... but they're going to have an even harder time of denying things when the seacaps actually do completely melt, while there are people fighting in the streets over potable water.


Because by then, the solution that's been slowly growing in their minds (ever since they'd finally given up on trying to deny it's there... then denying it's our fault...) is that "Someone in the next generation will obviously fix it before it's too late."


But will they, though? Are they probably going to be the same generally apathetic, self-serving lot like the rest of us who have let it get this far already? I mean there's already 4 billion extra around and there's not a good solve-rate on these problems among them. What makes you think that 1 in 16 billion is significantly better odds than 1 in 8 billion?


Oh, also because of something else that current climatologists are also starting to ask among themselves and during peer-review: "Is it already too late?"


One of my favourite bits of natural science historical trivia: Thanks, in no small part, to the movies we know exactly how extinction-level events work. Giant space rock... Bruce Willis is employed for some reason... heartfelt scene between an adult and an estranged parent... etc. Basically writes itself.


But what we know isn't true. Extinction events in the past (the so-called "Big-Five" anyway) happen over long periods of time. Sometimes thousands of years. Even the one with the giant space rock... that could have lasted as long as a thousand years as the effects of the disturbance rippled across the biospehere. It was not just one firey collision and that's it... everyone is a crispy critter.


We're such drama queens. Everything always has to end with a bang.


The largest extinction event to date is the Permian-Triassic. It took as long as a few hundred thousand years for the entire event to run its course... taking out something like 80% of all life on Earth.


Know what caused that one? Four of the Big Five (space rock excluded) in fact?


Sharply rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels (due to some chaos factor) leading to global warming and ocean acidification.


This takes lifetimes. Generations. Of frogs in pots. Normalizing what should be alarming. Consciously and consistently ignoring what will, inevitably, become un-ignorable.


Well, I imagine a dinosaur happily gnawing away at some cretaceous grass on the Yucatan plains on that sunny Tuesday afternoon 65 million years ago would probably been about as surprised as a dinosaur can be. With their brains in the butts and all.


I guess us and the dinosaurs have more in common than I thought. Completely powerless to stop an asteroid: them because Bruce Willis hadn't been invented yet... and us because we are the asteroid.


And I strongly suspect will not end not with a bang, but a gasp.


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