Sunday, April 18, 2010

The sixth extinction - resurrection

Billions of years of life on this planet have gone through several devastating disasters. Scientists have figured out that mass-extinctions have occurred five times before. Each earth-shattering event has destroyed a ¼ or more of all the beings living here.

The question isn’t IF it will happen again, the question is when.

Or maybe the question should be; by what means will this happen?

Homo sapiens are by all accounts a young species. Our kind have only roamed the earth for 200 000 years or so. Even if we during that time have experienced an Ice-age as well as large meteorites crashing and giant volcanoes erupting, we’ve yet to see anything really cataclysmic.

Isn’t it time soon?

The fifth (and latest) major extinction circa 65 millions of years ago eliminated > 17% of families on the planet, including the Dinosaurs. Most likely caused by one (possibly multiple) collisions between Earth and an extraterrestrial body (probably cometary), although some geologists point to a great volcanic event as a possible alternative.

The third major Extinction circa 245 millions of years ago, probably had the same cause as the fifth one, the others is generally regarded to have to do with major, and quite sudden, shifts in climate.

With this in mind it seems that climate change (a real one, not the made-up manmade one) or a large celestial crash should have the lowest odds in Vegas. There are however other possibilities.

Massive solar flare eruptions may both change climate and our geological situation at the same time as such an event would knock out most of our technology. We have cosmic rays from space as a constant threat. Reversal of the magnetic poles (especially if it happens fast) is also a possibility. The introduction of some alien substance, intelligent or not, will also be in this category. Just to mention a few.

But what about ourselves? Couldn’t we do it? Of course we could.

Some mean this is already on the way.

The transformation of the landscape, the overexploitation of species and, of course, pollution is said to contribute to the 30 000 species that go into the light each year. Although such doomsday sayers rarely count the number of new species emerging at the same time or even contemplate that many of those animals would go extinct regardless of human intervention, we can’t really dismiss it either.

My question in this scenario is; who cares? I mean why should be bother with useless animals rendered extinct? I don’t see the point. Only the animals we have use for or the ones who’re vital for ecosystems we depend on should be incorporated into any calculation.

The sixth extinction will only be dangerous if it happens to us, us humans. I don’t care if Polar Bears or any Condor turns into rotting corpses, why would I?

We could talk nuclear holocausts and I do admit it is a possibility, but not very likely one, at least not without other events preceding. It is far more likely that a comet strikes again. But wouldn’t a total break-down of our societies into anarchy, disaster and mass-starvation that will kill tens (maybe hundreds) of millions of people be the worst scenario?

I would think so, and this is also the only real threat. If a comet comes our way today or very soon, maybe we cannot do anything about it. The same goes for solar flares and cosmic rays. But give the human race enough time and we will come up with solid defenses against any such events. I’m absolutely sure about that.

What we don’t have a defense against is ourselves, and here’s where the real threat is.

And I’m not talking any made-up hoax about over-exploitation or the scam of manmade global warming. Such madness has nothing to do with this.

History shows us that the only thing we excel at more than our magical ability to survive and come up with new ways of adapting, is our imagination when it comes to kill each other.

There’s literarily no end to ways of killing other humans. Everything from The iron maiden to socialism, from stoning to The Pear of Anguish to burning people alive.
Instrumental in this task throughout the ages have been government. Not only the only entity able to start wars, it has also, with good aid from different religions, been the main inventor of torture devices and different ways of execution.

Certainly we can then say in our time and age, with the re-emerging of the state as our main contributor and effecter into human life; that we’re getting into more and more trouble. The bigger and stronger government, the more likely our doom seem.
So when our contemporary societies are heading for social- and economic upheavals with a very likely outcome of bigger and stronger government I cannot help thinking that the sixth extinction is closing in.

If my thoughts about our economic mess holds and the coming years will dwarf the “Great Depression” in severity, and if this leads to, what is usually the case, totalitarian ideas growing and that some of those funny little men with funny little plans comes to power, aren’t we then very close?

Just imagine if we would have had weapons of mass destruction available back in the 30’s. How would our world look today if that had been the case?

Personally I would prefer the comet or Alien scenario. At least then we could go out with a bang against an outside threat. Sadly even such an event, if we survived it, would be claimed by government. Surely they saved us? And so we’re back into the circle of expanding government and us closing in on our own destruction.

I think it is very ironic and quite amusing, that the most intelligent species ever evolved on this planet with the ability to survive and thrive only surpassed by the cockroach, will destroy itself. As long as collectivism and statism is growing, that’s the end of the road we’re heading for. My hope is that we go fast; I’ve always hated long goodbyes. So to you lefties and other lunatics out there; speed it up.

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