jusummerhayes

The state of nature

Not to put a too finer point on it, but it's screwed.

And it's entirely our fault.

"Oh dear god, he's at it again."

YES. I. AM.

And I make no apology for the fact that despite the Covid19 pandemic that's ripping communities and the world apart, we still don't get it; namely, we are no different to nature and yet we care (give or take the odd few people) not a scintilla about the natural world.

It's chortle worthy if it wasn't for the fact that we're talking life and death, dear readers. The life and death of (inter alia) insects, fish, birds, big cats, butterflies and creatures that we don't even know their names or not yet.

To be honest, it's a subject that can easily send me over the grief-stricken edge. Indeed, I've stopped watching anything that might bear on the issue because it upsets me and unsettles me for days after; I literally can't get the haunting imagery out my head, especially what we're doing to the fish and the world's oceans. 

I remember as a young kid visiting the Natural History Museum — still my favourite place in London — and being awestruck by the diversity of everything that was in my gaze. I was literally blown away. But, I also felt a deep sense of despair knowing at the time (I'd say it was the early 70s) that Blue Whales were practically extinct and two of the exhibits, the Passenger pigeon and the Dodo were extinct. I'll leave you to read the links (only if you're so inclined) and make up your own mind whether we were the sole cause of their demise but they were only the start of a long line of animals that we've annihilated — and without batting an eyelid. 

In fact, we're told that this is likely to be the 6th mass extinction:

"We are surely in the midst of a mass extinction. Even though it's hard to compare past extinction rates with that of the present, given missing data from the past, we do know how to identify extinction periods: the elevation of extinction rates in those periods are at least a hundred-fold over the slow "background" rate of "normal" extinction.

Of about 6 to 10 million currently existing species, we have still only identified 1 million; we know more about vertebrate species than we do about plants and insects. But for groups that we know well, knowledge of very recent species extinctions — and for current species, their ranges and the threats to them — allows us to be certain that extinction rates are comparable to those of the great past extinctions. For example, for birds, of about 10,000 species worldwide, at least 128 have disappeared in the last 500 years, about 1,200 are currently seriously threatened with extinction (all but three from human activities); there is a real prospect of the loss of 500 bird species within this century."
Daniel Simberloff 

At this stage, I don't want to make a cheap point or shoot myself in the proverbial, but it beggars belief that we're so head over heels in love with our pets but we appear not to care a jot for the welfare of farm animals (spoiler alert, I'm vegan) lest still the wild critters in our back yard. Of course, that's a gross and in some cases demeaning exaggeration but come on, you only have to think back to when you were a kid to know that things have changed — a lot!

"And your point Summerhayes?"

Ermm, well, I could finger-wag and tell everyone to be cognizant of their impact on the natural world or start supporting the charities in this space who so desperately need our help or I could say...nothing. I mean, surely, it's all been said ten times over, and it's made not a scintilla of difference. Well, at least that's my perception. A mass extinction! Imagine if that was us or certain parts of the world? (I suspect climate change will effect that in parts of the world.) I'd like to think we'd do something. Nature. Nope. 

In the end, and it's a matter of opinion, it comes down to indifference. We simply don't care enough or in some cases at all do anything about the parlous state of the natural world and it will, as night follows days, continue its inexorable decline largely at our hands. 

This makes me question over and over whether qua humans of this generation and those back to the start of the Industrial Revolution we will be ancestors worth claiming. Something tells me I already know the answer.

Blessings,

— Ju


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