For my birthday gift this year, I had asked for books; and not just any books, but books that addressed issues that are close to my heart. I recently finished reading one of those books, and it knocked the wind out of me.
The name of the book is Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. She talks about how humans are causing a sixth extinction on this planet on a massive, MASSIVE scale. While I am sure, there are people aware of this fact that our humanly activities have already welcomed our beloved global warming and climate change; our activities are killing off a huge number of species as well.
Five major extinctions have taken place on this planet before humans arrived (there are new findings that tell a different story, but more on that a little later). But the changes that caused those extinctions happened over a long span of time; so while many species did get extinct, there were many others that adapted and survived in the new environment. With the extinction that is now taking place, however, the change that is happening is at a much faster pace. This time the species do not have the time to adapt to their changes; they are simply vanishing from the face of this planet.
I know at this point, many of you would be wondering, ‘so what if there are species dying off, how does that affect us in anyway?’ It does, however, affect us. Let’s take a little detour to make things a little clearer.
Our planet, when it was formed, was a hot mess. As it began to cool down, life was triggered and organisms began appearing on the face of our planet. These life forms further helped in balancing the planet’s atmosphere. The atmosphere that we take so for granted and the hospitable, habitable planet that we are so used to, was not always like this. In order for this planet to sustain life, it had to learn how to balance itself. There are so many chemical and physical changes that happen on this planet every single second of everyday, that makes it the planet that we live on.
Everything on this planet has a role to play, whether it is the invisible virus that attacks our immune system, the blue-green algae who introduced oxygen into our atmosphere, the trees that strive to touch the sky, the insects that help in pollination, the herbivores that make sure the vegetation doesn’t grow out of control, the carnivores that make sure that the herbivores don’t eat all the vegetation; everything is in a carefully calibrated balance and then there is us, the Homo Sapiens, hell bent on breaking the very balance that has helped us survive for so long.
Every species that has become extinct due to our activities, every species that is on the brink of extinction, no matter how insignificant they might be in our teeny-tiny selfish minds, is a loss for the planet and the balance that it has created over all these millions of years. We have, however, successfully ruptured that balance.
How is human activities causing world-wide catastrophic extinctions? We have turned the world into a small village, where neither distance is too great, nor any place too remote for us to go to. Along with us, have come new species of plants and animals into local habitats that give unheard of competition to the local species of plants (yes, you read right. There are species of plants that are also going extinct) and animals and knock them out of the ring.
With the added pressure of the climate changing so quickly and drastically, many species are losing their natural habitats and are dying off. While they are people, who are trying to keep some species alive in a closed spaces and by freezing them into test tubes so they are not completely gone; what kind of life is that? The species we are keeping locked up, they will never know their true habitats; they don’t have the freedom of going somewhere else and the worse part is that they will never know. I know many people at this point, would think, so what? They are just animals, insects and plants. What difference does it make anyway?
We are the great HOMO SAPIENS. We were given the power of thought, intelligence and emotions. I always thought that we were placed here on this planet to achieve greatness, to cut the boundaries and unite the world as one. But what are we really doing instead? We are killing the planet, the life on it and we are also killing one another for a thing known as: money, that we created for economic purposes.
Want to know what the new findings were, that I said I will talk about later? Out of the BIG FIVE extinctions, there is a new astonishing proof, that the three that happened just when humans entered the scene, was caused by humans itself. We are natural killers. There is also proof that we mated with our sister species and killed them off as well. Considering we are natural killers, I won’t be surprised if we raped our sister species and then killed them.
I know there is the possibility that the destruction we have caused is now irreversible, but what stuns me is that there are still no large scale global initiatives to try and make a change.
All the destruction, all the imbalance that we have caused; we might think we are safe, but we forget that we are a part and parcel of this planet too. Anything that happens here because of us, will definitely affect us too.
Let the Destruction begin, for we were born to kill.