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Earth In the Midst of Sixth Mass Extinction: the 'Anthropocene Defaunation'

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the i-blame-the-schools dept.

Earth 342

mspohr writes: A special issue of Science magazine devoted to 'Vanishing Fauna' publishes a series of articles about the man-caused extinction of species and the implications for ecosystems and the climate. Quoting: "During the Pleistocene epoch, only tens of thousands of years ago, our planet supported large, spectacular animals. Mammoths, terror birds, giant tortoises, and saber-toothed cats, as well as many less familiar species such as giant ground sloths (some of which reached 7 meters in height) and glyptodonts (which resembled car-sized armadillos), roamed freely. Since then, however, the number and diversity of animal species on Earth have consistently and steadily declined. Today we are left with a relatively depauperate fauna, and we continue to lose animal species to extinction rapidly. Although some debate persists, most of the evidence suggests that humans were responsible for extinction of this Pleistocene fauna, and we continue to drive animal extinctions today through the destruction of wild lands, consumption of animals as a resource or a luxury, and persecution of species we see as threats or competitors." Unfortunately, most of the detail is behind a paywall, but the summary should be enough to get the point across.

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no problem (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531383)

I had no intention of reading past the summary anyway. If that....

Re:no problem (1)

Stuarticus (1205322) | about 2 months ago | (#47531417)

Welcome, brother, grab a cowl and toss your razor in the bin on your right. Is it state the obvious Friday already, or is this just another opportunity for an argument about human impact on the climate?

Re:no problem (2)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 2 months ago | (#47531503)

Nothing is obvious to the uninformed.

Re:no problem (5, Insightful)

GNious (953874) | about 2 months ago | (#47531761)

Nothing is obvious to the uninformed.

Quite to the contrary - a lot of things are obvious to The Uninformed, though a lot of those things are wrong...

Re:no problem (5, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 months ago | (#47531895)

Very true. A few years ago I was tutoring at a community college and actually met a man who didn't realize the Earth went around the sun. At first I assumed he was pulling my leg, how could an American in this day an age not know that?!? But he was fascinated by the idea, and we had a long conversation about the basics of orbital mechanics and how they shape tides, the seasons, etc.

Re:no problem (4, Interesting)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 2 months ago | (#47531791)

Welcome, brother, grab a cowl and toss your razor in the bin on your right. Is it state the obvious Friday already, or is this just another opportunity for an argument about human impact on the climate?

Nobody is citing climate change and all the animals they cite in TFS were extinct well before humanity is supposed to have had an impact on the planet's climate. So I guess it's the former if your two choices are the only ones I've got.

But then again, I had no idea we were supposedly responsible for the extinction of mammoth.

Re:no problem (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 months ago | (#47532007)

But then again, I had no idea we were supposedly responsible for the extinction of mammoth.

I guess you've never watched The Flintstones [blogspot.com] .

But what IS the point they're making? (0, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 months ago | (#47531387)

"Don't build anything, ever, and don't eat any animals, ever" ?

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (-1)

wiggles (30088) | about 2 months ago | (#47531421)

Mud huts. I think they want us all to go back to mud huts and open sewers.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (1)

opusbuddy (164089) | about 2 months ago | (#47531501)

Can I get a fiber node installed in a mud hut?

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 months ago | (#47531577)

You most certainly can, and satellite and everything. I remember the old days, when we had to go out and crank the old four meter C band dish that was standing on the only piece of concrete on the whole property by hand to find another bird.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (3, Funny)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 2 months ago | (#47531619)

It's not an open sewer, it's a mutli-household composting stream and cholera species sanctuary.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (4, Insightful)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 2 months ago | (#47531807)

People who lived in mud huts or worse were responsible for most of the megafauna extinctions, not technology. Humans who can't see or don't consider the consequences of their actions are destructive with or without advanced tech.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (1, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 months ago | (#47532101)

I'm not convinced people in mud huts were numerous enough or destructive enough to manage the megafauna extinctions. A lot of this hysterical screaming about how we're destroying the planet seems a lot like hubris.

On certain level, the idea that we have that much power pleases the egos of some people.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (3)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 2 months ago | (#47531443)

Nope. Go ahead and build anything and eat everything. Nature will take care of the human population eventually.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531451)

Humans are bad and you should feel bad.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (1, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 months ago | (#47531497)

Humans are bad and you should feel bad.

Humans are bad. You should feel bad. And give me money so you can feel less bad. I promise I'll use whatever is left over after the upkeep of my seven mansions to save the earth. Mostly by preventing your employer from doing business.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531643)

I think they should all pay penance by jumping off the nearest bridge. Evil no good humans - always messing things up for the rest of the planet.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47532083)

Lol! Exactly!

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531517)

Oh don't worry, we'll 3D print condos on Mars for the masses. You know, the Species that everyone cares so deeply about.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531543)

"Don't build anything, ever, and don't eat any animals, ever" ?

Let me know when they get the ants and the birds to comply. Until then, I'm building and eating other animals as well.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531563)

But what IS the point they're making? "Don't build anything, ever, and don't eat any animals, ever" ?

Stop fragmenting wildlife habitat?
Crack down on superstitious morons who think that tiger bones will do more to cure their insomnia than over the counter sleeping pills?
Don't buy a 500 hp pickup for one person to drive to work when you can use mass transit?
Stop packaging absolutely everything in Plastic which causes the oceans to clog up with plastic waste?
Replace old fossil fueled power plants?
Slap massive import duty on products from countries who are major polluters to pay for the damage their total lack of regard for the rest of the planet causes?
Buy more electric cars and put some effort into making them affordable?
Expand Economic Exclusion Zones, set up an international naval task-force and crack down on pirate fishing fleets?
Try to situate food production facilities as close to the consumer as possible to cut down on carbon emissions?
Promote energy efficiency?
Provide incentives for people to upgrade old buildings to reduce their energy consumption?
Try to plan cities and infrastructure to create continuous habitat for wildlife and modify existing infrastructure similarly?
Stop listing to ignorant and corrupt politicians who label common sense stuff like this as communism?

I knew it (3, Funny)

justthinkit (954982) | about 2 months ago | (#47531585)

Sooner or later my mom was going to get on slashdot.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (0)

wiggles (30088) | about 2 months ago | (#47531699)

So what happens when solar panels become too environmentally impactful? What happens when the wind turbines are impacting migratory birds? What happens when the lithium mines and copper mines used to make those electric car batteries are deemed too toxic and environmentally hazardous? Why, we shut them all down! Who needs electricity? And while we're at it, all those trees we cut down to build houses are destroying habitats for all kinds of animals - so let's use different building materials - earthen materials strengthened with straw perhaps? Much more environmentally friendly. Next, concrete manufacturing is a top producer of greenhouse gasses. Let's stop making concrete - we don't need sewer pipes if we just have our waste water carried away by gravity in ditches, right? It worked for mankind for thousands of years!

So we ditch the electricity, ditch the timber, ditch the concrete, and what's left?

Mud huts and open sewers.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531817)

Ever notice it is always the prole who has to cut down and move into the hut with the open jubes?

I'm reminded me of a place where I visited... there was a city park that had a lot of mountain biking, and as this was the start of the sport, IMBA was barely being formed, so trails ended up starting to get worn by people skidding. There were petitions to have this park closed for a few years to all traffic (pedestrian, cycles, equestrian) to let the area "heal".

Well, it finally worked. The park was closed. Six months later, a 50-75 year lease was finalized, and about 1-2 years later, it became an exclusive golf course.

Same thing with water. The neighbors around the park actually let the area get so dry, their foundations started cracking. All their water savings were for naught, as the golf course described above had an exemption, and used far more water than all their saving tried to answer for.

"Eco" stuff has to start at the top... and I don't mean more EPA laws (like the ones which have made all new diesel engines made in the past 2-3 years notoriously unreliable due to the insane emissions standards.)

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 months ago | (#47531845)

new homes are built from Cross Laminated Timber, which is itself made from the leftover parts of wood and trees
no one cuts trees down anymore just to build a house

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#47532009)

new homes are built from Cross Laminated Timber, which is itself made from the leftover parts of wood and trees
no one cuts trees down anymore just to build a house

But then, where do the "leftover parts of wood and trees" come from, if not construction material production?

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 2 months ago | (#47532043)

Paper production?

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#47532173)

I would think that to be a better use of wood scraps, as opposed to the good heartwood typically used for lumber production.

Of course, if we are using less actual timber and more manufactured wood products in home construction, I sure can't tell from visiting my local Lowe's or Home Depot - they still carry just as many pieces of 2x4 timber as they always have.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (4, Informative)

wiggles (30088) | about 2 months ago | (#47532021)

As someone who does carpentry and has helped build a couple houses over the past few years, this is patently false. You've been lied to by whatever environmentalist rag you subscribe to.

Most homes in the US are framed out of 2x4's cut from pine, floorboards are made of pine plywood, hardwood oak, cherry, and others are used for flooring. All of this comes from the timber industry, mostly from Canadian timber, but some more exotic stuff still comes from Brazil and Africa. My brother's floor is Brazilian cherry.

Some of that lumber is sourced from tree farms, but those tree farms are problematic as well - it takes years to grow them, and habitats establish themselves within those farms as they grow. The longer it takes to grow them, the longer it takes to offset losses in virgin forest. Hardwoods typically take over 30 years to be ready for harvest, longer if you want wider wood as you would need for 2x6 or 2x8 joists and furniture.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47532039)

New houses are built from concrete and bricks.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (2)

wiggles (30088) | about 2 months ago | (#47532169)

New apartment buildings are built with concrete. New houses are built with wood and the expensive ones are clad with brick, at least, in my area.

Also, concrete production is responsible for a massive amount of greenhouse gasses - as lime is heated to produce cement, it gives off a lot of CO2, which is dumped into the atmosphere.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531733)

I took your advice on point number 3. I didn't buy the 500 HP pickup I was going to buy.

I'm buying the 700 HP muscle car [motortrend.com] instead.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 months ago | (#47532213)

That's the sound of you missing the point. TFS goes into great detail about facts of whats happened, then says "which makes the point" - but it never MAKES the point. It's just a groupthink argument that everyone must somehow naturally arrive at the same conclusion.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531583)

The same point that all environmentalists are making, of course: that mankind is a blight on this planet and that we must all commit mass suicide for the good of all the other flora and fauna.

Only the environmentalists never seem to be willing to go first, for some reason.

But what IS the point they're making? (5, Insightful)

beamin (23709) | about 2 months ago | (#47531741)

Who says that the authors are trying to make a point, versus simply drawing conclusions based on observations? The derision in this thread and dismissal of the (ludicrous!) idea that any change in modern society's behaviors may be a good idea strike me as a defensive lashing-out by people who don't take climate change seriously and won't modify their behavior, humanity be damned.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | about 2 months ago | (#47531953)

While I agree that the change we witness in the climate is most likely to be blamed on industrialization, I think it's overzealous to instantly draw conclusions as to what exactly this change will do on the planet. And ecologists are the people we should blame for that. They've been claiming for decades that if we don't do anything the sea will rise by 25m in two decades.... But it's been two decades already and nothing visible has happened. In the eyes of many, they've lost most of their credibility. Especially since they advocate extreme measures that would really drain our economies and (most of them) don't even follow the first of their advice.

If you want people to believe you, you must be credible. Even more so if you want them to change. And ecologists are anything but credible. It's been the third political party over here in Europe and all politicians that were kicked out of the regular parties ended up there. Saying bullshit all day long.

There is no win in the short term unless some common voice can emerge from the brouhaha. I'm not holding my breath.

Re:But what IS the point they're making? (1)

selectspec (74651) | about 2 months ago | (#47532037)

No doubt. How many saber toothed tigers landed on the moon?

Take care of your yard? (4, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 months ago | (#47532085)

I imagine it's closer to "Invasive species are a danger to the entire ecosystem, including, eventually, themselves." When dealing with such the usual solutions are extermination (generally ineffective), or introducing a predator capable of keeping them in check without further destabilizing the ecosystem. Assuming we wish to do neither, nor suffer global ecosystem collapse, it would behoove us to start learning to co-exist with our ecosystem rather than strip-mining it.

And it's not like that is some sort of knee-jerk hippie "let's all live in mud huts" bullshit. As one example consider the gradually increasing numbers of oceanic "wildlife preserves" where all fishing and other destructive exploitation is banned - Not only does the protected area begin returning to pre-exploitation lushness, but so do the surrounding waters. Fishing yields around the protected zone reverse the global trend and begin to increase dramatically, greatly benefiting even the fishermen who were initially opposed to banning fishing in the richest waters. Given half a chance nature can be extremely bountiful, we just need to give the ecosystems a chance to stay healthy rather than maximizing short-term profits at the expense of long-term desertification.

If it is paywalled... (1)

MindPrison (864299) | about 2 months ago | (#47531405)

...then it's not considered important enough for the masses.

Re:If it is paywalled... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 months ago | (#47531529)

"The world is coming to an end! Pay me money to find out how!"

Re:If it is paywalled... (1)

MindPrison (864299) | about 2 months ago | (#47531623)

"The world is coming to an end! Pay me money to find out how!"

Hahaha, yeah - classic, it's always like that, something is doomed somewhere, and it's always paywalled or lead to a book, dvd, newspaper or something you have to buy.

Re:If it is paywalled... (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 months ago | (#47531703)

My post will get modded down. It shouldn't, though.

"Remember 50 years ago when people were all concerned about species loss? Then they resurrected them? (Said to a 17 year old neanderthal.)"

Re:If it is paywalled... (2, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#47532071)

World's gonna end whether I pay or not, right? Then fuck it, I'm going to do the smart thing and give my money to that Asian guy who comes on my TV at about 2 AM every morning, and tells me that if I give him my money, he'll teach me to get as rich as he is.

Giant ground sloths are extinct? (3, Funny)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 2 months ago | (#47531423)

You guys sure about that? I'm pretty sure there's one sleeping a few cubes down from mine. At least, I hope that's a giant ground sloth...

Re:Giant ground sloths are extinct? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 months ago | (#47531537)

You guys sure about that? I'm pretty sure there's one sleeping a few cubes down from mine. At least, I hope that's a giant ground sloth...

I suspect that giant urban rats are starting to fill that niche.

Re:Giant ground sloths are extinct? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531747)

You guys sure about that? I'm pretty sure there's one sleeping a few cubes down from mine. At least, I hope that's a giant ground sloth...

I suspect that giant urban rats are starting to fill that niche.

You mean they are replacing human politicians? I suppose we have no choice but to welcome our new giant rat overlords.

Re:Giant ground sloths are extinct? (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 months ago | (#47532079)

I think it's the act of becoming a human politician that starts the transformation to giant rat.

I need to call my congressmen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531425)

...and ask if this is "not science", too.

Relevant: http://www.iflscience.com/environment/congress-tells-scientists-ipcc-climate-report-not-science

Humans Are Killing Machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531453)

I know I kill over a billion sperm every 3-4 hours or so. Need an amazon to grow enough trees to produce that paper, incidentally, amazon is where I also order it.

Solutions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531455)

If the problem is caused by people, then the solution is less people.

So which people do we stop from reproducing?
What methods are we willing to use to enforce the reproduction bans?
What will be the punishment for violators of the reproduction bans?

Or maybe we let Global Climate Change take care of the people population problem.

Re:Solutions? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 months ago | (#47531547)

> If the problem is caused by people, then the solution is less people.

I agree. You first.

Re:Solutions? (2)

the phantom (107624) | about 2 months ago | (#47531951)

I have gone first. My wife and have produced no offspring, and we will not produce any offspring. Your turn.

Re:Solutions? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 months ago | (#47532091)

I have gone first. My wife and have produced no offspring, and we will not produce any offspring. Your turn.

The flaw in this reasoning is contained in the answer "cool. More for us."

It is their fault. (2, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 months ago | (#47531485)

They were delicious. And we were hungry. God did give them tooth and claw. Despite it they did not defend themselves. May be they wanted to be eaten.

You may not agree with this statement. But shockingly there is a strain of political thought in America that applies exactly this principle to the human society and the poor people. And ironically those who profess these "maker vs taker" are shocked when they are told they are practicing social Darwinism.

So? (1)

freak0fnature (1838248) | about 2 months ago | (#47531491)

like I really want a 7 meter ground sloth in my back yard...

OMG (0)

opusbuddy (164089) | about 2 months ago | (#47531493)

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Re:OMG (4, Funny)

Cardoor (3488091) | about 2 months ago | (#47531555)

your'e comment reminds me of an experience when i was a freshman in high school taking shop class. A friend on the schoolbus asked to see the boxcutter we had to bring in for class (im guessing they dont allow that in high schools anymore these days). anyway, when i took it out and commented on how sharp it was, the idiot next to us, trying to look for someone to make fun of said 'aww.. thats bullshit! its not sharp at all!' and proceeded to pull it out of my hand, and swipe it against his arm. after about a second, blood began the gush, and his expression changed to an 'OH.'

Re:OMG (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 months ago | (#47531677)

2 out of 5 people are lower IQ than 95. an IQ of 80 is considered barely functional.

Re:OMG (2)

Cardoor (3488091) | about 2 months ago | (#47531745)

interesting way to look at it. makes sense and explains a lot - to borrow from your example then (and use some broad brush strokes), on widely impactful issues, only 3 of 5 have the perceptual tools to make an informed decision. Of these three, if 2/3 have not only the intellectual capacity, but also the moral compass to act in a responsible and wholistic way, then that leaves us with 1 guy... who has the intellect but lacks the moral compass.... who then proceeds to manipulate the 2 sub-95'ers with propoganda to win the vote 3-2. huzzah!

Re:OMG (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 2 months ago | (#47531759)

... which is why we don't allow something as innocuous as a box cutter in schools anymore. I tend to believe conspiracy theories, and actually favor the inevitable constitutional debates that follow. Invariably, an idiot shows up and slices and dices himself because he doesn't have the tool handling ability of a bronze age neanderthal. Society then intervenes to preserve the gene pool. It's perplexing.

Re:OMG (1)

Cardoor (3488091) | about 2 months ago | (#47531821)

agreed.. and the funniest/oddest thing of all? said high school? bronx high school of science... even smart people can be morons.

Re:OMG (2)

Boronx (228853) | about 2 months ago | (#47531709)

There's going to be a lot of posts from people who don't believe in processes that take longer than their lifetimes. Congratulations on being one of them.

Pleistocene Epoch Also Supported Large Watermelons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531507)

...that were just as red on the inside as contemporary watermelons.

To this day, 95% of our earth’s oceans remai (1)

D,Petkow (793457) | about 2 months ago | (#47531515)

To this day, 95% of our earth’s oceans remain undiscovered. Erm I kinda hoped that we still have not discovered a lot of species but if they are like jelly fish or amoebas it wouldn't be of any significant matter...

Re:To this day, 95% of our earth’s oceans re (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 2 months ago | (#47531685)

That's the part which is most abiotic.

One small way I try to help. (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 2 months ago | (#47531523)

Personally, I take a very darwinian approach to my lawn. That is, so long as it grows, and can put up with the lawn mower, it can stay. I don't water. I don't spread chemicals. The result is that I have all kinds of fauna in my yard, some of which I am not sure are even native to this solar system.

Re:One small way I try to help. (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 months ago | (#47531609)

I do the same thing. I let whatever wants to grow, grow, so long as it doesn't mind being no taller than about 4 inches. We have all kinds of strange things living in our yard that I am positive would not be there if we had your typical toxic waste pit of an American yard.

We're also in the woods, and I make no effort to remove felled trees (except to remove trees that are threatening falling on the house), allowing them instead to decompose on the floor of the woods like they are supposed to.

What is alarming to me is the presence of several invasive species. We have asian giant hornets, land planariums (which are ***seriously*** bad things to have), and other asian insects that presumably hopped rides in shipping containers from the far east.

These invasive species have no natural predators and their populations are soaring. We had a tree fall this summer in a period of heavy rain, and the root ball was just infested with planariums. These things compete with earthworms for resources, but do not excrete anything useful into the soil, so areas that get infested with them cannot grow flora very well, and trees can die.

Re:One small way I try to help. (2)

mkremer (66885) | about 2 months ago | (#47531701)

Fun fact earthworms are not native to America.

Re:One small way I try to help. (2)

the phantom (107624) | about 2 months ago | (#47532063)

[citation please]

There are earthworm species that are native to North America (see, for instance, Hendrix's Earthworm Ecology and Biogeography in North America [google.com] ). There are also exotic / invasive species. These species (as well as one or two native species with expanding ranges) are definitely a problem, but that is a different statement from "earthworms are not native to America."

Not news (5, Insightful)

anzha (138288) | about 2 months ago | (#47531535)

Old news. Frankly, the extinction has been going on since the beginning of the Holocene. Hallam said it best: there has never been a time when humanity has successfully and peacefully coexisted with nature.

Re:Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531737)

I may be stupid, but the summary named like 6 animals that are extinct now. Aren't there more than 6 species of animal in our modern day? Aren't there more like 6 million species of animals today?

Re:Not news (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 2 months ago | (#47532115)

I may be stupid

Well, you nailed that one.

Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531825)

Yeah - slashdot is supposed to be about Current news... and this is like... thousands of years old. I'm indignant.

Re: Not news (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 months ago | (#47531839)

Nature is not something that peacefully coexists with things to begin with. The only reason why it can appear that species are coexisting is that they are at an equillibrium left behind from driving the other 99.99..% of species extinct. To pick out humanity as a "problem" takes remarkable hubris.

We might wipe out 99% of current species including ourselves, but as far as the earth or nature is concerned, or grander, the universe, it doesn't make one shitpile of difference.

The only thing we should be concerned with is self preservation. Beyond that, any notion that we should be ashamed of how we have treated other species, destroyed habitats and whatever seems asinine.

They are marginally adapted lifeforms that struggled to adapt just like every other extinct species in the past. They aren't sacred. Nature doesn't have that concept. I mean, hell, as advanced as we imagine we are, we've only managed what fireants do..., breed a lot, adapt to new areas or cause new areas to adapt to us, outcompete everything that was there and take the resources we need. Totally unoriginal.

Our time is limited. If we want to raise species diversity for... whatever reason, aesthetics maybe, we need to get off this planet and go elsewhere. That has the benefit of extending our own survival beyond the next time there is a mass extinction (probably inevitable) that we didn't cause.

Re: Not news (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 2 months ago | (#47531955)

I guess to boil it down to a shorter point, it is this:

Any other apex predator species given the same capability and opportunity would do the same as we did. We know this, because they do (that's why we have problems with invasive species).

For us to single ourselves out as 'special' or 'remarkable' is flawed. Possibly, so is the idea that this is even a bad thing. I mean, one of the tenants of punctuated equilibrium is that species evolve fastest when under high pressure and presented with new opportunities. And while we might be the cause of other species going extinct, we aren't the cause of *all* species going extinct, just the ones in niches that prevent them from adapting easily. In their niche-vaccuum is opportunity for the successful species to expand/adapt on their own, and potentially become new, interesting things once we are gone or have reached our own equilibrium with the environment.

Re: Not news (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#47532137)

For us to single ourselves out as 'special' or 'remarkable' is flawed.

All my life I've tried to figure out what it is that makes humans different from the rest of the animal kingdom.

I used to think it was our capacity to learn, but science disproved that.

Then I thought maybe it was our ability to teach, but science disproved that one as well.

But now I think I finally have it figured out, why Man is so much different than the rest of the animal kingdom -

Human beings have the ability and need to rationalize their behavior, no matter how banal or malicious said behavior may be.

What'dya think?

Re: Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47532157)

No. It's definitely a problem. Look at antibiotic resistant bacteria. If species evolve to "handle" us, that can only makes our lives suck more.

We should take our supreme power and guard it. Give the little bugs/criters/etc what they need to NOT be a threat and we can continue on our merry way.

Re: Not news (2)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 months ago | (#47532263)

we are the cause of most species going extinct in the modern era.
natural extinction is longer drawn out process. even the extinction of the dinosaurs took a few thousand years.
and in that process they are frequently replaced, or the beginings of a replacement, by a new critter on the rise, or other critters filling in, or whatever equilibrium ends up being reached.

but therein lies the problem. not only are WE the cause, we are doing it far faster than nature can cope and adapt.

and we're not really an apex predator either. in nature if lions or wolves eat too many critters, they face starvation the next year, and their numbers drop. in the following cycle, now the prey multiplies. now with a surplus of food the predator numbers once again rebound. the cycle swings like this naturally every so often.

we, humans, no longer see or partake in that natual predator and pry boom/bust cycle.

if we wipe out all the fish in the sea, oh well, there's plenty of other stuff we can eat. in fact that's WHY we're not apex predators. we're omnivores, with very adaptable diets. but that omnivorous diet coupled with our ability to adapt and grow as a species (such that we're now the only sentient one here, and the single most numourous outside of insects and some fish) is even vastly different than other adaptable species. if we eat all the fish in the sea or some "local" area, for nearly concept or size of local, we barely feel it because we can ship in rice from asia, or corn from nebraska, or beef from australia.

we are so disconnected from the natural cycles that the comparison to apex predators is completely unjustified.

Re: Not news (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47532023)

You fucking idiot, we *live* *in* this environment. By fucking it up, we fuck up our own chances at survival.

If we can't leave parts of the planet to themselves, what makes you think we'll leave each other around either?

Our time is limited. If we want to raise species diversity for... whatever reason,

How about just keep what is there? (At no point has diversity *inreased*!) And it's not for "whatever reason". It's for practical reasons. We are 100% dependent on the diversity of things. Kill the diversity of the bacteria in your gut, and I'll take bets how long you'll live. Do it on global scale, and this planet is not going to be "unaesthetic", it is going to be at least boring and most likely downright poisonous as new bacteria species establish a new equilibrium.

But then whom am I arguing with? An idiot that doesn't understand that *diversity* is the machinery that keeps things in balance and Earth habitable for *us*.

We might wipe out 99% of current species including ourselves, but as far as the earth or nature is concerned, or grander, the universe, it doesn't make one shitpile of difference.

So since it doesn't make any impact on the universe, why don't we just blow ourselves up now? It doesn't make any difference anyway!

Why the fuck do you wake up in the morning? It certainly does not make any difference to the universe.

Re: Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47532125)

"An idiot that doesn't understand that *diversity* is the machinery that keeps things in balance and Earth habitable for *us*."

We will have "diversity" regardless of if the extinction of "species" (made-up categorical distinctions anyway) was 100x what it is. Evolution is a constant process of increasing variation and then culling that variation by natural selection pressures. Always has been. By what means are you determining the "right amount" of "diversity" in contradiction to what evolution indicates?

Re: Not news (1)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | about 2 months ago | (#47532119)

Beyond that, any notion that we should be ashamed of how we have treated other species, destroyed habitats and whatever seems asinine.

Agent Smith:
I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area.
There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is?
A virus.
Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.

Re:Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531937)

No life 'coexists with nature.' Life violently struggles against the seasons and against other life. Sometimes, different kinds of life find a way to cooperate that they both benefit, but predatory and parasitic relationships are much more common. Every plant, animal, fungus, bacteria, and whatever other kingdoms I have forgotten since biology class is in a constant battle of survival against nearly everything else.

Humanity is doing the second best job of subjugating competition in determined geological history (heavily beaten by the first algae to use photosynthesis while acquiring a resistance to oxygen). This will come with unexpected consequences, and the next struggle for survival may be against the results of previous human actions.

Re:Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531981)

Ah yes... the Goldilocks strategy. Man is unique in either having its impact on nature either "too hot (consumptive)" or "too cold (passive)", and it's never "just right"... because that tends to lose funding and/or political traction.

Man is the most successful species by all evolutionary measures (the only basis for measurement you're offering) in all of time. This is a good thing.

Re:Not news (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 months ago | (#47532247)

The Americas were pretty ecologically lush when the Europeans first arrived, despite being pretty thoroughly settled for 5-10,000 years at that point. In fact the population was so dense that the journals of early European explorers report that the smoke from their cook fires was visible for a week before the land itself came into view. Now, a scarce 500 years later, the vast hardwood forests have been exterminated and the great plains have expanded from the Mississippi all the way to the Appalachians and are gradually turning into desert.

There's something to be said for actually paying attention to the ecosystem around you and considering the long-term consequences of your actions. from Wikipedia

"In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine." This is an often repeated saying, and most who use it claim that it comes from “The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations: The Great Binding Law.”

We might have been better off if we had incorporated a bit more of their constitution into our own.

Eric Garner is exinct. (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 2 months ago | (#47531581)

There is no need for me to take sides. You may think that in the large scheme of things, Eric Garners passing is insignificant. That is the real debate.
One thing is certain. Eric was important enough to me to log in and improve the odds of a flame war. You see, I may not have the wherewithall to alter the outcome of a society hell bent on its own destruction but, You've got to say: 'I'm a human being, god-dammit! My life has value! ... Now I want you to get out of your chairs...

The non-anthropogenic ice melt is irrelevant! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531647)

Huge non-human-caused glacial melt and natural climate change had NOTHING to do with it!

The end of the last Ice Age is a LIE.

Send us MONEY!

MORE MONEY!!!!

(we have large mansions, private jets, and fleets of limos to pay for!)

What about the rise of new species? (1)

CQDX (2720013) | about 2 months ago | (#47531653)

Without RTFA, have they surveyed our dumps and sewers? I'm sure there are a huge number of new species that are arising out of our garbage just waiting to take over. I just hope they don't have a hanker'n for BBQ humans.

I refuse to stop! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 months ago | (#47531657)

Because animals are TASTY! In fact I'm going to go have some chicken and cow for lunch... If I choose hotdogs, Then I get Chicken,Cow, Pig, Rat, Squirrel, and Mystery animal all on one!

Re:I refuse to stop! (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 months ago | (#47532153)

Myself, I've always been a firm believer that at least one meal every day should include an ingredient that had a mother.

No Evidence and No Facts (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531669)

Just a bedtime storie for Bambi-eyed hippie-anthrops and their non existent 'Anthropocene'.

Science Mag (rag) is after all the propaganda organ of the AAAS, on Florida Avenue, Washington, D.C. and the NSF and others budgets are making their way through with some constipation the budget committees in the House of Reps.

Typical AAAS and Washington D.C. crap.

So? (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | about 2 months ago | (#47531715)

Doesn't that mean we are winning the race for species domination just as every other species on Earth attempts and has attempted to do until resources cause the decline?

The reality is Earth's clock is ticking. All resources need to be exhausted to find a way off of this rock or sustain life in the harsher confines of deep space. Otherwise, what are we really doing with our advantage over all the other species past and present? You want a long term goal for humanity? There it is. Survival of the species beyond the scope of the planet for wence it came.

Re:So? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 2 months ago | (#47532141)

That's a great long term strategy to take to our next planet(s): use up all available resources as quickly as possible. Sure is easier than figuring out how to live sustainably with what's availble.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47532259)

Our star will still burn out while you are living green here on Earth. Solar power and wind power will not sustain humanity for the length of the Earth's existence (nor will oil or coal). But we do know there are other fuels out there at other locations for energy.

Astroturfing (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 2 months ago | (#47531725)

Wow; This is an amazing thread. Does it pay very well?
I can blow smoke rings outta my ass as well as any of you.

What if that's "the plan?" (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 2 months ago | (#47531803)

The Japan tsunami killed a whole bunch of people. Damn tsunami. It's a part of Mother Nature that just doesn't care about the consequences. It's just a matter of physics having top priority.

Humans have top priority over the planet (excluding tsunamis ... for now). We are unthinking and determined to do what comes "natural," to us.

Are we any worse than a tsunami? Aren't both we and the tsunami doing what we are designed to do?

Perhaps humanity made a mistake somewhere way back in the long ago and we are supposed to be tending sheep. Perhaps we are supposed to kill off a bunch of flora and fauna. Maybe we are supposed to shit in our mess kit until we are all gone because we are an impediment to the next apex. I don't know..

No one knows the end game.

What is the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531887)

If the dinosaur, cockroach, or the tortoise was smarter, it's instinct for survival would have killed of all known predators as well. There are animals in the wild now that fight and kill other animals for reasons other than a direct food source. They do it for protection and competition. Humans are not alone.

Plants do it to each other too. Many vines take over surrounding vegetation, blocking the sun and and killing off native tree. Some vegetation root systems blocks out others to gain space on the ground and blocks their root systems causing others to die off.

Living things compete. Do you have a better idea where everything can coexist and not hinder anything else? Nope.

Again, this is not limited to just humans.

The sins of the father (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47531997)

We are all guilty. Repent.

{give me a break already}

Ghey (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47532041)

Sounds like 9/10th's liberal guilt and 1/10th science.

Kinda like "global warming"... errr climate change...whatever they're trying to call it these days since their theories always turn out to be false.

You ins38sitive clod?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47532081)

I read the latest architecwture. My show that FreeBSD [tuxedo.org],
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