Thongchai Thailand

ANTHROPOGENIC EXTINCTION

Posted on: February 22, 2021

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THIS POST IS A CRITICAL REVIEW OF A UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER THEORY OF AN AN ANTHROPOCENE EXTINCTION EVENT CURRENTLY UNDERWAY AS DESCRIBED IN AN ONLINE ARTICLE BY MARK WILLIAMS: LINK: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/73ab69fedac54685ae837562e3389d13

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PART-1: WORLD SCIENTISTS’ WARNING TO HUMANITY

The Anthropocene Extinction: 10,000 BC to Present Day: In 1992 the majority of Nobel laureates in science and over 1700 other scientists drafted The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity. They insisted that overpopulation, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, industrial agriculture, and over-fishing were setting humanity on the path to another mass extinction. Perhaps they looked at the common drivers of the previous “Big Five” and saw correlations between the environmental changes we see today. In 2017, twenty-five years later, their concern was revisited with World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice. This time, over 15,000 scientists from 184 countries were signatories on what is believed to be the journal article with the most co-signers ever written. The article claims not enough has been done in the past twenty-five years to slow the effects of climate change as a result of human activity. In fact, many of the indicators show that things are getting worse. The rate of species extinction is a naturally occurring phenomena over a given period of time, also known as the background extinction rate. While not an exact calculation, the background rate suggests that a single species would face extinction every few hundred years from natural causes. Right now we are losing approximately 4.5 species every year. The Anthropocene stands apart from all previous mass extinction events. The current extinction rate is 10 to 100 times higher than previous mass extinctions. Never before has a species dominated the globe to such an extent. Humans are considered the apex of apex predators. We are responsible for introducing invasive species to fragile ecosystems around the world, hunting fauna to extinction, and pumping tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. We have to recognise that our impact is game-changing on this planet, that we are all responsible, and that we have to become stewards of nature – as a part of it, rather than behaving like children rampaging through a sweetshop. –Mark Williams, University of Leicester. Ocean hypoxia and acidification, high levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide introduced into the atmosphere, warming of the oceans and an increase in toxic metal content are all previous harbingers of mass extinctions. We are responsible for contributing towards all of these factors today. Talk of drastic measures to “save the planet” are sometimes met with eye rolls. Perhaps smaller steps are needed to begin the conversation. Looking back on earth’s 4.5 billion year history and the five previous mass extinctions, and being aware of the effect that humans have on the environment can lead people to make more responsible decisions. There may not be a need for radical lifestyle changes in every aspect of our lives. While we are responsible for anthropogenic climate change, we can also be cognizant of our actions and simply be responsible.

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PART-2: HUMANITY‘S WARNING TO WORLD SCIENTISTS

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In a related post: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2021/02/18/sixth-mass-extinction-2/ we note that although humans have been around for seven million years, the Anthropocene does not have that kind of time scale. Some claim that the Anthropocene started in the 1950s post war economic boom (70 years ago) and the explosion in car ownership, air travel, manufacturing, factory farming, and in consumption by humans. Others have traced it back to the Industrial Revolution about 200 years ago. The longest possible time scale for the proposed anthropocene role of humans is the rise of human civilization in the Neolithic Revolution about 8,000 years ago.

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Yet, a review of the details in the five great extinction events (End Permean, End Triassic, Late Devonian, End Ordovician, and End Cretacious show that all of these mass extinction events to which the Anthropocene is being compared, have occurred at time scales of many millions of years. The much shorter time scale of the Anthropocene, somewhere from 70 years to 8,000 years does not compare with the time scale of the extinction events to which the Anthropocene is being compared. Therefore the comparison of the Anthropocene to the five mass extinction events of the past is not credible.

Another inconsisenty is that all the five extinction events of the past to whch the Anthropocene is being compared have a significant common feature in terms of extreme and sustained geological upheaval in terms large transfer of heat and material from the mantle to the crust. Yet, as noted in a related post: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/07/31/planetary-environmentalism-in-the-anthropocene/ , “, human ability to influence or control the mantle and core of the planet has no basis although they constitute most of the planet. A failure of extreme environmentalism such as the Anthropocene is that it overlooks the relative insignificance of humans on a planetary scale. Consider for example humans, like all life on earth, are carbon life forms created from the carbon that came from the mantle of the planet, but a rather insignificant portion of it. In terms of total weight, humans constitute 0.05212% of the total mass of life on earth. All the life on earth taken together is 0.000002875065% of the crust of the planet by weight. The crust of the planet where we live and where we have things like land, ocean, atmosphere, climate, and carbon life forms that include humans, is 0.3203% of the planet by weight. The other 99.6797% of the planet, the mantle and core, is a place where we have never been and will never be and on which we have no impact whatsoever. In terms of the much feared element carbon that is said to cause planetary devastation by way of climate change and ocean acidification, a mass balance shows that the crust of the planet where we live contains 0.201% of the planet’s carbon some of which appear as carbon lifeforms such as humans. The other 99.8% of the carbon inventory of the planet is in the mantle and core. The crust of the planet where we live is an insignificant portion of the planet. Life on earth is an insignificant portion of the crust of the planet. Humans are an insignificant portion of life on earth. Although it is true that humans must take care of their environment to enhance human welfare, we propose that the environment should have a more rational definition because the planet is not our environment. And that implies that it is not possible that there is such a thing as an Anthropocene in which humans are the dominant geological force of the planet.

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Like ants and bees, humans are social creatures that live in communities of humans so that when they look around they see humans everywhere. This is the likely source of our human oriented view of the world that creates the Anthropocene state of mind. Paul Ehrlich’s failed overpopulation theory is derived from his first visit to India which he described as “people people people people people!” It is this biased view of the planet that makes it possible for us to extrapolate Calcutta to the planet and come up with the fearful image described by Jeff Gibbs as “Have you every wondered what would happen if a single species took over an entire planet?”

The inversion of environmentalism from the idea that we must take care of our environ to enhance human welfare to the notion that humans are the guardians and caretakers of nature likely derives from the so called Bambi Principle described in a related post: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2020/11/15/the-bambi-principle/ .

Bambi Turns 75! Take a Deeper Look at the Film's Impact on Animation, Risk  Taking and the Loss of a Parent

This kind of environmentalism originated in the West where we also find a strong BIBLICAL TRADITION in which God had given humans DOMINION OVER NATURE: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2021/02/15/divine-environmentalism/ . This exalted self image as caretakers of nature is often extended to the planet itself so that humans see themselves as the caretakers of the planet as God’s agent on earth. These exalted self images are far removed from the reality. The mundane reality is that we are not caretakers of nature but part of nature and just another species of mammals here for a while until our natural extinction in the dynamics of the evolution of species.

Download "Laudato Si" | Pope Francis' Encyclical on Environment and Climate  Change

Humanity’s warming to world scientists is that to be scientists they must adhere to unbiased and objective scientific inquiry without an emotional activism agenda. Activism and science do not mix. They must pick one or the other because they can’t have both. More on activism in science: LINK: https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/02/03/hidden-hand/

COP21: James Hansen, the father of climate change awareness, claims Paris  agreement is a 'fraud' | The Independent | The Independent

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  • chaamjamal: Good point. The shoreline ugliness is not only an eyesore but it stinks and also attracts huge numbers of flies and other such creatures. I was one of
  • Paul H: The shoreline waste problem could be alleviated in part if Asian nations didn't dump lorry loads of plastic into rivers and seas. I sadly didn't save
  • chaamjamal: "Too few in number and powerless against the hypnosis of the masses" Sad but true and well put. Thank you for that insight.
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