Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Some of you know that I don't get too riled about the extinction of a species.

I do not condone, in any way, reckless human endeavors that endanger the environment or upset ecosystems but I accept that more than 99% of all species that ever inhabited the earth have vanished. I also accept that the millions of species currently frolicking about will also, one day, be gone.

The earth has changed radically since it first cooled into shape some 4 billion years ago and the forms of life it sustains have necessarily evolved. This is a perpetual process and it will not stop.

It goes without saying that I hope man does not contribute to these changes in any meaningful way. Like you, I would prefer ecological transformation at a slow rate, slow enough to allow evolutionary forces to perpetrate an abundance of diverse life. However, even mother nature can act quickly in this regard.

For example, a massive earthquake could trigger hyper-volcanic activity which could fill the sky with ash and plunge the earth quickly into a deep ice age bringing a rapid, mass-extinction to our era. A wily virus could devastate the earth's vegetation, deplete the atmosphere of oxygen, and kill all but the few remaining anaerobic life forms. I could go on but the point is clear; sudden change could happen through myriad, unstoppable natural phenomena.

More likely, change will continue on pace with the slow crawl of ecological time. Temperatures and sea levels will rise and fall and re-draw the shorelines of today's continents as they bump and slide across the tectonic foundations of the earth's crust. The mixture of gasses in the atmosphere will fluctuate with the consumption and production of the earth and all it's organisms. And although the earth's trajectory and proximity to the sun are not beyond alteration by the interactive gravitational forces between all of the massive bodies hurtling through space and time, it will likely remain in a sustainable orbit for billions of years to come.

So, let's do what we can to avoid the sudden changes that would render the planet inhospitable to our current evolved forms. But, at the same time, let's not forget that our species, along with every other species we know, is only here for a brief, brief time and the conditions that sustain us will certainly change.

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