Thanks Chris for pulling on this thread so to speak
Perhaps these photos are just of excesses of the past, of things we label charismatic megafauna, then promptly tend to forget, whereas the bugs and bees fallen to pesticides, and the fish eaten for survival do not seem to evoke the same feelings of loss.
See also today’s news about a recent paper describing the human impacts on the larger mammals: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/04/19/604031141/new-study-says-ancient-humans-hunted-big-mammals-to-extinction
Wonder how many babies this female had every year…
5 Replies to “If you cannot catch them, stampede em over the cliff”
I imagine that if the anaerobes had been sentient, they would have been pissed at the cyanobacteria back in the day. The Great oxygenation event was a watershed Darwinian step function, and I guess we are another example of how a single species can stumble on to a very successful adaptive behavior, and shove many other species out of their ecological niche, or even then on to extinction.
Even before our big brains were able to leverage fossil energy, we were still able to modify landscapes and change the ecology of continents. As I’ve said in other places, we are a rogue keystone species.
Putting aside the rational, science based perspective, it’s truly sad to see that we humans are not just ripping apart a complex, beautiful web of life, but we know that we are doing so, and yet can’t stop.
Steve, thanks for chiming in, you have obviously given thought to these issues for some time.
Coupla quick thoughts-
The first was an aha after discovering a refrigerator science project years ago where the molds got to some bread. I had been gone fishing for 6 weeks and so the project was well along. The white mold which often appears first, maybe the yeasts, colonizes in discrete patches, followed by the black mold with the long stalks, again in separate patches which seem to spread slowly. This situation is often relatively stable for some time, the bread retaining its shape and substance. Then along comes Jones, the green mold, which once the colonies begin, rapidly covers all the unoccupied surface area and then begins to consume the body of the bread until the whole thing is gone. Eventually all the molds expire because their source of nourishment is no longer there. In this fable seems we are the green team.
The second thought is that in order to survive, survival taken as the first biological imperative no matter which language we speak, we have to get off this planet and spread the mold to more bread, to another petri dish…
but it seems unlikely that we have or will have learned the lessons, refining the issues down only to the basic elements of reproduce and spread, or die. No middle ground.
The last thought is that the earth critter biologist types are estimating species successions and extinctions through distant time and the increased rates of species removal in this current anthropocene age. Perhaps i get it wrong but if we step back from the present and look at things over the long view, there seem to be very few species that evolved the traits necessary for survival in a prehistoric niche that have continued to survive down to the present, with the implication that most species were destined to die out even before the hominids showed up, and statistically that is likely our fate as well, despite our desire to survive. Just saying…
Thanks for the photos, Richard.
The question of how much of our attention and resources should go towards space exploration and further development of machine civilization in general is a critical one, and debated with some vigor recently in the corner of the world where Richard and I live.
Personally I think the marginal return is dwindling rapidly on the strategy of creating fossil fuel machines to solve problems and that we would get a lot more bang for our buck by not creating the problems in the first place. Or as the inimitable Chris Smaje at Small Farm Future puts it: “settling down a bit.”
Not very heroic, I know. Yoda, instead of Luke Skywalker. Is there or should there be a place for heroism, is it a necessary mythos in human adolescent development? Perhaps. But it is also necessary to leave it behind, and Western culture is incredibly deficient in this respect, if you think about it. The Hero mythos is over-developed and over-dominant. In fact, and correct me if I am wrong, but there really is no other mythos of comparable stature in the Western tradition that would teach us how to settle down.
Apalling pics, giant fish Goliath Grouper still in gulf off Florida here. Though sonar fishing should make short work of them. Less we forget, before photography, the clouds of passenger pigeons lasting hours described by early settlers. Back in the “modern” era, 50 years ago there was talk of over population, over crowding and trying to control its explosion. Now long forgotten. Ever increasing numbers of neighbors lament encroachment of bears, coyotes and snakes, like they have a choice. Jodi and Michelle lead and offer a vision of more sustainable practices, let there be hope. Let’s find a vision where the green mold doesn’t devour all the resources. Where the sustaining planet has space and vitality to support many diverse species. Where the continuing parade of adaptions doesn’t have a Darwinian step function of our making. Maybe we can even tag along, for a while.
From Richard above: ‘the green team’ – ha! Yes that seems to be us, from a distance and over a longish time frame.
By some estimates our work here won’t just wreck our own life-support. From here on it’s tipping points cascading into much bigger tipping points – scouring the surface until the planet reverts to spinning hot rock. Venus II, where once there was at least a mouldy piece of bread some bugs called home.
And from Steve above: ‘…we know what we are doing so, and yet can’t stop.’ That’s the killer. Cannot get my head around this…
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