Scientists believe that the sixth mass extinction on Earth is already occurring. In the 11,000 years since the last ice age, biodiversity on this planet has been shrinking at an alarming level. Where normally 1 to 5 species may go extinct per year, we now lose hundreds of times that. This loss of life has been dubbed, “The Holocene” and is considered to be an entirely man made mass extinction.
The responsibility of maintaining a livable environment on Earth depends solely on human beings. Mass extinction events in the past have proven that life existence is temporary. We must recognize the limits of our environment in order to ensure a future for the species. We shouldn’t do it for anything other than us. We don’t need a reason other than us. Life will continue with or without human beings regardless. We have the miraculous opportunity to live during the golden age of this rock, and we need to ensure that it stays that way.
Earth’s third mass extinction event, the Permian–Triassic extinction, or “The Great Dying” is one of five known mass extinction events to have occurred in Earth’s history. It started with an explosion and massive columns of smoke tunneling into the sky. Earth’s defensive bubble, the atmosphere, thickened with black smoke and carbon Dioxide blotted out the sun. Darkness filled the sky, and life nearly suffocated in the pitch.
During this period, 96 percent of all marine species, and 70 percent of land species became extinct under the new environmental pressures created from volcanic activity and meteor strikes. From East to West, their remains now act as solemn reminders as to what is at stake when we talk about the threat increased carbon dioxide production poses.
One by one, mass extinctions have paved the way for the human race. Our dominance over the natural world permeates everything from our food, to our clothes, to our entertainment. We are the benefactors of this timeless pruning, and as such our responsibilities greater than any other living being before us.
Unlike the dinosaurs, trilobites and Dodo birds, human beings have the ability to recognize our extinction and change its course. Just like other extinction events, changes in the atmosphere are considered primary causes in the inability for life to propagate. If we continue to promote emission standards worldwide, we can limit the excess greenhouse gasses being filtered into our atmosphere, and potentially save the humans from themselves.
It sounds dramatic, but it’s true, the survival of the human species depends on us. I do not believe the actions taken today reflect the existential threat that climate change poses on humanity. Man-made or not, our ability to recognize the threat is what separate this extinction from the others. If we can manipulate our environment to suite our needs, we must recognize that our needs go beyond the present. We must manipulate our environment in such a way to maintain it for the future. There is no greater charge. There are no greater stakes.