The Sixth Extinction

There’s lots of doom and gloom out there, for good reason. Climate change seems to be accelerating, and even though we’ve been warned over and over again, we still either ignore the scientists, or deny their evidence altogether. Jokes on Facebook about Noah’s Ark have been prevalent in my feed, and storms have been a daily occurrence for almost two weeks. My vacation was cut short due to a 100 year type event causing a flash flood through the camp I was at. After returning home, the news was full of articles referring to the sixth extinction.  After over 10 years of warning us, scientists have published empirical evidence on a growing loss of biodiversity.  According to the article on NBCNews.com, that rate of loss is on a scale comparable to the last extinction event, 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs reign ended. In a related article, it is estimated that the actual extinction event could happen in less than 200 years.  While normally an extinction event could take thousands of years, the current rate of climate change has compressed this timeline to the point that the Earth could lose 75% of all species by 2200.

I don’t know if there’s anything we can do to stop, or even slow it.  I don’t know if it’s too late to slow climate change.  I worry that our only recourse at this point is adaptation.  Are enough people concerned?  Or do the challenges of day-to-day life take precedence over long term issues? We all have responsibilities to our families, our employers, our friends, ourselves.  Every day the list of to do items gets longer.  Our everyday life seems to leave no time at all for saving the world.  So what can we do?

Walk instead of driving when you can.  Turn off the A/C. Grow your own food to whatever extent you can.  Buy local.  Vote for the candidates who support your viewpoints, even if you don’t think that person can win.  Recycle, or even better, reuse.  Buy food in bulk to avoid extra packaging.  The list is endless.

I know that one person recycling one glass bottle isn’t going to save the world.  I know that 10 people recycling won’t do it.  But if those 10 people each influenced 2 people each, now 30 people are recycling.  Still not enough, but better.  If four people carpool that’s three cars not spewing carbon into the air.  A single person does not act in a vacuum.  Each person has the potential to influence other people.  A cascade, or waterfall of action.