Dennis Bradford

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The current rate of extinction shows how much trouble life on Earth is in.

Extinction facts

  • 40% of amphibians are threatened [with extinction]
  • 33% of marine mammals are threatened
  • 33% of sharks are threatened
  • More than 90% of ocean fish stocks are being harvested at or above sustainable levels
  • 33% of corals are threatened
  • 10% of insects are threatened
  • 9% of terrestrial animals are threatened
  • 85% of wetlands have disappeared

These figures come from an article in The Economist (11 May 19) that obtained them from the “Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services” published on 6 May 19.  This report is based on 15,000 research papers.

Sadly, there’s nothing surprising about them.  Yes, the figures are estimates, but they are the most reasonable guesses that science is able to provide.  Yes, the figures involve assumptions and extrapolations, but the big picture is clear.

Ignoring bacteria, fungi, and unicellular organisms, Earth has about 8,000,000 species of plants and animals.  (About 200,000 plant species and about 950,000 animal species are scientifically described.)   About 1,000,000 of those species are threatened with extinction.

Our future, too.

Are We to Blame for Extinction?

Human actions have “significantly altered” 75% of Earth’s land environments and 67% of Earth’s marine environments according to the report.

The Industrial Revolution began a little over 2 centuries ago.  Prior to that, land and marine species found Earth’s environments a veritable paradise.

Of course we are to blame!

What Should We about Extinctions?

Obviously, we need to change our ways quickly and decisively.

While the ignorant and selfish continue to resist even admitting the problem, one minor encouraging note is that young, educated people in the U.S. seem to grasp the idea that the future will be a disaster for our species as well as for many other species without quick, decisive action.

Even if that’s the case, though, I’m skeptical.  In general, human beings seem to have little capacity for even apprehending such large problems – much less acting in concert to ameliorate them.

It amazes me that humans are still breeding.  Do those other people not yet grasp what Earth will be like physically even by the end of this century?

The Solution

There is, though, a solution, namely, millions or, better, billions of us will wake up from sleep and free ourselves from the conceptual prisons in which most of us live (cf., e.g., Taylor’s Waking From Sleep).

It could happen. Or not.

7 thoughts on “Extinction

  1. Roshi

    Nice clear, succinct summation of the terrible predicament we’ve gotten ourselves into, Dennis. Thank you.

    Also thanks for a book that I featured in teisho last weekend at my annual weekend intensive for the Cleveland Zazen Group: SWEEPING CHANGES, by Gary Thorp. It’s inscribed “Dear Sensei–thanks for the visit–Ironox,” dated “30 Nov. 2000,” and signed by Amy Biber and 20 other students of yours. I also used it for my teishos at the Madison Zen Center in 2016. It’s an excellent book, and I’m adding it to our online list of recommended reading.

    14/05/2019 at 12:10 pm
  2. Dennis Bradford

    Thank you, Roshi. You’re welcome for the post and, again, for the book. Naturally, you are quite right about SWEEPING CHANGES. In fact, simply because you reminded me of it, I intend to go through it again. gassho

    14/05/2019 at 1:01 pm
  3. sharon

    having the figures are amazing of the shape of our planet. just recently a major grocery store announced it was going to stop using plastic bags to bag groceries and switching to paper bags . in one of the stores a reporter was interviewing customers what they thought about the change one elderly woman said she could remember when they switched to plastic bags to save the trees .times change we have to change

    14/05/2019 at 9:47 pm
  4. Joyce

    Great so are we safe on this earth

    17/05/2019 at 7:25 am
  5. Beatrice

    Nice…. it really tells us we are not safe in this earth and there should be a change a positive one.

    17/05/2019 at 7:44 am
  6. Darcy

    We can wait for the younger generation to take control and do something but I’m not hopeful. Greed and self interest are now inbred in Western (and I suspect Eastern) society and the third world countries have no way to effect significant change. The problem is obvious. In spite of his significant shortcomings almost 40% of Americans still feel that Donald Trump is suitable to lead the most powerful country in the world. As a Canadian who spends significant time in the US I have the opportunity to discuss the Trump presidency with your countrymen. Those who support him give similar reasons….he keeps his promises and he is good for the US economy. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t believe in climate change despite the overwhelming evidence that it is exactly that which is causing the issue which you raise here. Obviously it’s not just the Trump supporters who are the problem. As long as most people can make their car payment and put food on the table they probably aren’t concerned about the frogs in Indonesia even though their loss is just the tip of the disappearing icebergs. I like your idea. Humans should just stop breeding and leave the planet to those creatures who instinctually put survival first. Or we could all move to Mars and ruin that planet, too.

    29/06/2019 at 2:58 pm
  7. Dennis Bradford

    Thanks, Darcy. It’s not just Trump. In my judgment, he’s mentally ill (dysfunctional, mad); he suffers from malignant narcissistic personality disorder, which Kernberg described malignant narcissism as a syndrome characterized by a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial features, paranoid traits, and ego-syntonic aggression. Other symptoms may include an absence of conscience, a psychological need for power, and a sense of importance (grandiosity). It’s foolish to expect him to function at a higher level of consciousness. President Carter was correct; he is an illegitimate President. He not only lost by millions of votes, but he cheated during the 2016 election. What’s really discouraging is all his ignorant supporters. My guess is that 99% of them haven’t even read the redacted Mueller report, which I read online the day it was released. Well, the world as well as the country are paying and will continue to pay an enormous price for that ignorance. Plato and other philosophers have well-understood demagoguery. Marian Williamson was correct in the debate last week: love conquers hate. The hatred and divisions inflamed by Trump and his supporters will eventually cease to exist, but that won’t happen until a lot more damage has been done. That’s just the way the world is.

    30/06/2019 at 3:56 pm

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