Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ruminations on "The Sixth Extinction"

I have begun reading "The Sixth Extinction" by Elizabeth Kolbert, and I am deliberately reading it one chapter a day. I don't think I could bear more. I believe in honesty, and this book is honest. With the shmear of humans across the world rather like butter on a slice of bread, each year sees the absolute obliteration of species of living things, from flora to fauna.

The first chapter is about the obliteration over the last decade or two of so many species of amphibeans. It doesn't touch on horned frogs, the mascot of a college here in the Metroplex. I played with "horny toads" as a child, as did my oldest son. The colony of horned frogs by the Methodist church where my sons grew up may have been gone by the time my younger son came along.

They were fairly easy to catch, and would close their eyes in bliss--or so we thought--if we rubbed the smooth skin between the spikes over their eyes.

My granddaughters probably will see them in zoos and never hold one.

This is happening all over the planet to grasses, trees, birds, insects,land and marine animals...and water supply. I see this. And I am sad, because I also see so little I can do.

I can, and do, oppose fracking. I have no personal experience with noise, smells, chemical effects, but I am passionately opposed to polluting millions of gallons of water--which will not be clean enough for the earth and humans to use for decades or hundreds of years--when humankind is facing massive overpopulation and widespread drought. It is madness in the name of greed. And frankly, it doesn't seem like common sense to me that something humans do which seems to cause accompanying earthquakes is very good for us, either.

Diversity in nature is important. To me, that's self-evident. We are always finding some little piece of the universe that after all fits in right--there--and makes something else work. So how much can die before we humans start dying off, too? will that be too late for the earth to revive somewhat?

Earth resources are finite, but we act as though they are infinite. We have some serious shortages coming up. The two Americans are noticing, however, are coffee, and chocolate. The whys would make a good book on each. Vanilla is less threatened, but also at risk.

Hopefully we will take better care of the growers of all three and make expansion of product possible.

Humans are so silly. We, too, are marvelously diverse, and it is one reason we have multiplied to such numbers as we now have.

I remember some survey awhile ago where people said that if they could genetically modify their babies in utero, what they would want would be for them to be genetically modified so they could eat all they want and stay thin.
Oh. And they want to live to be 100, too. It used to be true that persons who had reached 100 had never been overweight during their lifetimes. I don't know if that still is true.

I do know that being able to survive on less food is a definite survival trait for humankind. I am proof positive that one can love broccoli and be fat. I often eat far too much and can survive quite nicely on less food. As I age, and eye my retirement income, that is a nice perq. I am so used to my household that when I visit my son's family for a meal, I am somewhat awed. The one meal consumption--for six of us, granted--would feed me for close to two weeks (and boy, would I be tired of the rations by then!) They are younger and much more active. They eat more.

We have big fights over water brewing, I know that. I've already seen an article extolling the solution of extracting sea water and removing the salt to solve our drinking water problems. Maybe that will solve the problem of rising seas. Oceans,however, aren't infinite, either.

When I was a little girl, I was told that only humans have souls, and that we were the only planet with life in the universe. Even as a kid, I doubted the latter. You don't lie on your back staring at the night sky in New Mexico and say, "Earth is the only planet with life in the universe? Really?"

I don't know how it will all turn out. As I look around the planet, at the trash in our oceans, the poisons in our rivers, the smog in our air, the dying species, I can imagine some cosmic voice re-echoing around the globe: CLEAN UP YOUR ROOM!

The problem is, where do we put the trash?

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