Are Humans Engineering the Next Mass Extinction?

September 7, 2015 by

8 comments

Categories: Apocalypt-o-meter, Tags: , , , ,

Sorry to disturb you, preoccupied as you surely are with the endless and ultimately futile struggle for existential perpetuation, however I have some news which may come as somewhat of a disappointment.

Science has yet again found evidence that we're killing ourselves off while taking copious other unsuspecting creatures out with us in an apocalyptic "two-for-one" special.

What's the deadly discovery this time around?

human fossils

Apocalypt-O-Meter reading 90%!

Apocalypt-O-Meter = 90%

Sorry to disturb you, preoccupied as you surely are with the endless and ultimately futile struggle for existential perpetuation, however I have some news which may come as somewhat of a disappointment.

Science has yet again found evidence that we’re killing ourselves off while taking copious other unsuspecting creatures out with us in an apocalyptic “two-for-one” special.

What’s the deadly discovery this time around?

Flashback

A good quarter of a billion years ago, Earth was going through one of those ghastly teenage rebellion phases. Though she had acquired a world-class dinosaur collection, she also suffered from a severe bought of volcanic acne. These persistent pyroclastic pustules built up until the pressure on poor Earth’s otherwise lovely face was all but unbearable.

Around this time, Earth, who had long fancied Mars’ fine rubicund figure, plucked up her planetary courage and asked him to swing by and checkout her dinosaur collection. Yet what was her indignation when he replied that he would be visiting Venus that day!

You may recall that unlucky time when Earth got hit with a stray meteorite during a game of dodge-ball with Mercury and Saturn—but I assure you this was far more egregious. After Mars cast her off so discourteously, Earth’s anger rose so hot and fast that her acne ruptured all at once, and in a blind rage she stormed home and smashed to smithereens her beautiful dinosaur collection.

…Or at least, that’s the way I seem to recall the tale—but my memory is rarely lauded for its pristine accuracy.

CO2 and Ocean Acidification

As some less imaginative sources prefer to tell it, an inordinate number of volcanoes erupted within the breadth of a few thousand years—a mere eye-blink when measured on a geological scale—slathering the atmosphere in heaps of carbon dioxide. But of course what goes up must come down, and all that CO2 turned into acid rain, in turn spiking ocean acidification to catastrophic levels.

As a result, 90% of sea creatures and two-thirds of land animals on the stage of history got the shepherd’s crook.

Consider it the series Reboot for Planet Earth.planetEarthReboot

The Great Dying

These days that event is known as the Permian-Triassic Boundary Extinction, which is the scientific approximation of the lay phrase, “That time when pretty much everything fucking died.” Other folks simply call it “The Great Dying,” which I should think gets the point across just as well.

However, by now you’re probably asking yourself, “What does this 250 million year old Debbie Downer have to do with me?”

Well, you may want to sit down for this one.

Seated?

I’m so glad.

Now…

Brace Yourself!

Turns out, it’s happening all over again.

That’s right—we’re currently playing footsie with Great Dying 2.0!

But this time around, it’s not a bunch of volcanoes causing it. It’s a bunch of semi-evolved monkeys with a petrol fetish.

You know… Us.

petroTriggeredBummerExtinctionAccording to a recent study, it wasn’t so much the volcanic fireworks as the subsequent spike in ocean acidification that did everyone in. And that kind of rapid acidification is happening again today as a result of human generated carbon emissions.

So even though the amount of carbon we’ve added to the atmosphere hasn’t reached “Great Dying” levels—yet—ocean acidification is currently increasing at about the same rate, which more or less sums up that whole “disappointing bit” I mentioned earlier.

In short, we are currently destroying our oceans at a rate equaling the single greatest mass extinction in the geological history of the world.

Achievement (sort of) Unlocked!

Modern science has shown us not only that mass extinctions have occurred repeatedly in the past, but also that we’re currently in the middle of one—and more alarmingly, that we are the petrol-powered driving force behind it.

And let’s face it. With literally dozens of species already going extinct every day—don’t you think it’s a bit arrogant to assume we can’t possibly become one of them?

How long do you think humanity will last?

Be sure to let us know in the comments.

8 Responses to Are Humans Engineering the Next Mass Extinction?

  1. Heather Tibor

    Peter, brilliant! And also terrifying. That could be your new byline: Peter Chordas, brilliant and terrifying. But really, I’m proud to know you and will be contacting you when the apocalypse comes.

  2. Joseph Di Meglio

    Well done Peter!!! Us scientist’s need a bit of comedy with this bleak out look on climate and climate related extinctions. It is truly unfortunate that people are so incredibly stupid not to realize the importance of sustainable energy sources or to promote policies that encourage funding and development of such technologies. No one thinks of the future of this biosphere and the all life that it holds. Well done!

    • Peter Chordas Post author

      Thanks, Joe! Agreed. A lot of folks out there (and especially the media) like to talk about climate change as though it’s some kind of new, unforeen concept—despite the fact that scientists started issuing warnings about human-induced climate change back in the 1800’s. Yet to be fair, I think a lot of people have wanted alternative energy and responsible resource usage for a long time, but most of the decisions that determine what resources are used—and how they’re used—take place in corporate boardrooms where no one but the profit-makers call the shots. Needless to say, it’s hard to care about what’s on the horizon when you can’t see over the giant stacks of cash you’re making. :-/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!