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Archive for the ‘extinction’ Category

 

Demise of dinosurs some 66 million years ago by a cosmic impact* ought to tell us some sobering facts. Like the stone that was hewn without hands in the Book of Daniel a meteorite wiped out the Giants that walked on the earth. Mammals at that time were precariously trying to get a toehold and on the slow stream of life man was holding on. Now we are the dominat species at least on the basis of wholescale impact we have on everything else. Plastics? Why we invented it and made it on a commercial basis so it made profit for industries that took up production all across the globe. It was so pervasive no household could do without it. It had of course its practical appliciation but the oceans are now chokeful of it so much we are fated to ingest it from marinelife that we catch. The simple organisms like sponge that played a large part in cleaning up the ocean beds are dying and corals are bleached due to the climatic changes. Welcome to the age of anthropocene.

We have been pretty careless with our environment. As homo sapiens man exploits his ‘wisdom’ but for what? He carried beads and baubles, which were trinkets in the Old World but novelty for natives in the New World. What wisdom is in extending scorched earth policy all across the world? Now we are told to expect some pretty fundamental changes when we are no longer the planet’s dominant animal species.

So if we were given the chance to peek forward in time at the Earth some 50m years after our disappearance, what would we find? Which animal or group of animals would “take over” as the dominant species? Would we have a Planet of the Apes, as imagined in popular fiction? Or would the Earth come to be dominated by dolphins, or rats,- or cockroaches or ants?

The question has inspired a lot of popular speculation and many writers have offered lists of candidate species. Before offering any guesses, however, we need to carefully explain what we mean by a dominant species.

Of all the species that were arguably dominant animals at some stage in the history of the Earth, humans are alone in their remarkable intelligence and manual dexterity. It follows that such traits are neither requirements for being dominant among animals, nor particularly likely traits to evolve. Evolution does not favour intelligence for its own sake, but only if it leads to higher survival and reproductive success. We exhausted our opportunities in ideologies capitalism or socialism. Even in matters of belief-system our stupidity is so egregious that we preach what we do not understand. We kill but do not cure stupidity of others by it. Why kill another for an idea? It shall never stay true but change with time.

Even if humans succumb to a global pandemic that affects relatively few other mammals, the great apes are precisely the species that are most at risk of contracting any new diseases that drive us from the Earth.

Consequently when we speak of dominant species this article of intelligence need be qualified as that raises the level every other species. Of nature putting balances and checks so no species may free ride at expense of others we need accept as good.

It is a profound mistake to imagine that our successors are likely to be especially intelligent or social creatures, or that they will be capable of speech, or adept with human technology.

So what can we safely speculate about the dominant species, some 50m years after humanity? (Ack: the Conversation-Jan. 26/luc bussiere-univ.of Stirling)

* The Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event, also known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary (K–T) extinction, was a mass extinction of some three-quarters of the plant and animal species on Earth—including all non-avian dinosaurs—that occurred over a geologically short period of time approximately 66 million years( wikipedia)

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The sperm of all 18-year-olds should be frozen for use in later life because of the risks attached with being an older father, Dr Kevin Smith, from Abertay University in Dundee, says. He also adds, ‘ sperm-banking on the NHS should “become the norm”. He is a bioethicist.

Sperm becomes more prone to errors with age, increasing the risk of autism, schizophrenia and other disorders. The British Fertility Society also agrees since such a move would “provide a very artificial approach to procreation”.

Progress of men has made acquisition of things a priority than in number of progeny. There is nothing of a gene push since we have become self indulgent and children of impulses and self gratification. There is no such thing as an Alexander the Great having his four generals to carry on with his grand Hellenism, an idea that changed the course of the world. What can you expect from Tom, Dick and Harry whose only aim in life is Instant gratification?

Men are having children later – the average age of fatherhood in England and Wales has increased from 31 in the early 1990s to 33 now. This must send alarm bells ringing. We are on the edge of a live crater and the volcano may snuff out human race like so many mass extinctions in the past.

Since the last great mass extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, life on Earth is entering the greatest mass extinction according to a major new study – and humans may be among the casualties. What does that entail? It would leave a huge hole in the world’s ecosystems,- and lemurs, aye-aye, jumping rats on the island of Madagascar are on the precipice of extinction, and so many others. There have been five major mass extinctions in Earth’s history. Scientists predict a Sixth. If we were to compare the time frame of the other five it would not be outside the realm of probability.

So let’s be pessimistic, and assume the apocalypse is going to happen. What does Earth look like afterwards?

The greatest crisis in history

The Permian-Triassic boundary (251m years ago) saw the greatest crisis in Earth’s history, when at least 90% of the species including insects suffered huge losses – the only mass extinction in their long history.

This was attributed to the effects of huge volcanic outpourings of lava and associated greenhouse gases, in what is now northern Russia. This lead to global warming, ocean acidification and acid rain, marine oxygen depletion and poisoning by toxic metals such as mercury. Imagine today’s gloomiest climate predictions, but cranked up a few notches.

The few species that survived gave rise to all life thereafter and there has not been such a profound restructuring of ecosystems since, perhaps because this “survival of the fittest” rendered their descendants more tolerant to global change.

What chance man has since he never branched off into so many sub species or genera?

Man even when the volcano goes out into showers shall have a selfie to make . Only trouble is he may have none to share it with.(ack: The Conversation- How life on Earth recovers after a devastating mass extinction by David Bond-univ. of Hull/ 24 June, 2015; )

Even on the mouth of  an angry volcano my advice for man would be, ‘keep your cool man. Plenty of time to go up in smoke.’

benny

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