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The Four Horsemen Of The Sixth Mass Extinction

The Four Horsemen Of The Sixth Mass Extinction thumbnail

Scientists have been warning for decades that human actions are pushing life on our shared planet toward mass extinction. Such extinction events have occurred five times in the past, but a bold new paper finds that this time would be fundamentally different. Fortunately, there’s still time to stop it.

Death on a pale horse is one of the traditional four horsemen of the apocalypse from Revelations.
A detail from Gustave Dore’s image of death on a pale horse. Death is one of the traditional four horsemen of the apocalypse from Revelations. Scientists have identified four fundamental ways in which the Sixth Mass Extinction is different from those in the past: the four horsemen of the Sixth Mass Extinction as it were. Illustration: Gustave Dore

Periodically, in the vast spans of time that have preceded us, our planet’s living beings have been purged by planetary catastrophes so extreme they make your typical Ice Age look like the geological equivalent of a stroll in the park. Scientists count just five mass extinctions in an unimaginably long expanse of 450 million years, but they warn we may well be entering a sixth.

According to a bold new paper in The Anthropocene Review, this time would be different from past mass extinctions in four crucial ways – and all of these stem from the impact of a single species that arrived on the scene just 200,000 years ago: Homo sapiens.

“There is no point in apportioning blame for what is happening,” said lead author and geologist, Mark Williams, with the University of Leicester, since humans “didn’t deliberately engineer this situation.”

“Rather we have to recognise that our impact is game-changing on this planet, that we are all responsible, and that we have to become stewards of nature – as a part of it, rather than behaving like children rampaging through a sweetshop,” Williams noted.

Some scientists argue that amphibians are already experiencing a mass extinction. The golden toad has not been seen since 1989 and is believed extinct, possibly due to a combination of habitat loss and the chytrid fungus which has wiped out amphibians around the world. It's believed the chytrid fungus was delivered via international travelers.
Some scientists argue that amphibians are already experiencing a mass extinction. The golden toad has not been seen since 1989 and is believed extinct, possibly due to a combination of habitat loss and the chytrid fungus which has wiped out amphibians around the world. It’s belived the chytrid fungus was delivered via internaitonal travelers. Photograph: Conservation International/PA

The impacts of a still-avoidable sixth mass extinction would likely be so massive they’d be best described as science fiction. It would be catastrophic, widespread and, of course, irreversible. In the past, it has taken life ten to thirty million years to recover after such an extinction, 40 to 120 times as long as modern-looking humans have been telling tales by firelight. Moreover, Williams and his team argue that future changes driven by humanity may go so far as to create not just a new epoch in geologic history – such as the widely-touted Anthropocene – but a fundamental reshaping of Earth on par with the rise of microbes or the later shift from microbes to multicellular organisms.

“Fundamental changes on a planetary system scale have already begun,” said co-author Peter Haff, a geologist and engineer with Duke University. “The very considerable uncertainty is how long these will last – whether they will simply be a brief, unique excursion in Earth history, or whether they will persist and evolve into a new, geologically long-lasting, planetary state.”

But what are these “fundamental changes” that would makes this mass extinction different from the previous five?

“Episodes of global warming, ocean acidification and mass extinction have all happened before, well before humans arrived on the planet,” co-author Jan Zaleasiewicz, a paleobiologist with the University of Leicester, said. “We wanted to see if there was something different about what is happening now.”

Turns out there is.

Meet the four horsemen of the Sixth Mass Extinction

A firefighter holds a water pipe as they extinguish a fire on burned peatland and fields in Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia. The air pollution or haze has been an annual problem for the past 18 years in Indonesia. It's caused by the illegal burning of forest and peat fires on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo to clear new land for the production of pulp, paper and palm oil. Singapore and Malaysia have offered to help the Indonesian government to fight against the fires, as infants and their mothers are evacuated to escape the record pollution levels.
A firefighter holds a water pipe as they extinguish a fire on burned peatlands in Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia. The air pollution or haze has been an annual problem for the past 18 years in Indonesia. It’s caused by the illegal burning of forest and peat fires on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo to clear new land for the production of pulp, paper and palm oil. Singapore and Malaysia have offered to help the Indonesian government to fight against the fires, as infants and their mothers are evacuated to escape the record pollution levels. Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

The team of geologists and biologists say that our current extinction crisis is unique in Earth’s history due to four characteristics: the spread of non-native species around the world; a single species (us) taking over a significant percentage of the world’s primary production; human actions increasingly directing evolution; and the rise of something called the technosphere.

The first real change is what the authors of the study call the “global homogenisation of flora and fauna.” Basically what this means is that you can eat tomatoes in Italy, hunt oryx in Texas, ride horses in Chile, curse cane toads in Australia, dig earthworms in eastern North America and catch rats in the Galapagos. None of these things would have been possible without human intervention: our penchant for globetrotting has brought innumerable species to new habitats, often wreaking havoc on existing ecological communities and sometimes leading to extinctions.

Secondly, over the last few centuries, humans have essentially become the top predator not only on land, but also across the sea. No other species in the past can claim such a distinction. In doing so, humanity has begun using 25 to 40% of the planet’s net primary production for its own purposes. Moreover, we have added to this the use of fossil fuels for energy, essentially mining primary production from the past.

“It’s not hubris to say this,” Williams contended. “Never before have animal and plants (and other organisms for that matter) been translocated on a global scale around the planet. Never before has one species dominated primary production in the manner that we do. Never before has one species remodelled the terrestrial biosphere so dramatically to serve its own ends – the huge amount of biomass in the animals we eat.”

Thousands of shark fins line a street, obstructing traffic in Hong Kong, China. Sharks have long been one of the top predators in the oceans, but they have been usurped by humans. Today, they are among the most threatened of marine species worldwide due to overfishing largely for their fins.
Thousands of shark fins line a street, obstructing traffic in Hong Kong, China. Sharks have long been one of the top predators in the oceans, but they have been usurped by humans. Today, they are among the most threatened of marine species worldwide due to overfishing largely for their fins. Photograph: Paul Hilton/Paul Hilton/EPA/Corbis

Thirdly, humanity has become a massive force in directing evolution. This is most apparent, of course, in the domestication of animals and the cultivation of crops over thousands of years. But humans are directing evolution in numerous other ways, as well.

“We are directly manipulating genomes by artificial selection and molecular techniques, and indirectly by managing ecosystems and populations to conserve them,” said co-author Erle Ellis, an expert on the Anthropocene with the University of Maryland. He added that even conservation is impacting evolution.

“As human management of ecosystems and populations increases, even when aimed at conservation, evolutionary processes are altered. To sustain processes of evolution that are not guided by human societies intentionally and unintentionally will require a sea change in management approaches.”

Finally, the current extinction crisis is being amplified by what the researchers call the technosphere.

Technosphere?

Peter Haff coined the term technosphere just last year. He defines the technosphere as “the global, energy consuming techno-social system that is comprised of humans, technological artifacts, and technological systems, together with the links, protocols and information that bind all these parts together.”

Basically, the technosphere is the vast, sprawling combination of humanity and its technology. Haff argues that in our thousands of years of harnessing technology – including the first technologies like stone tools, wheels and crops – the technology itself has basically begun to act practically independently, creating a new sphere (i.e., like the biosphere or atmosphere or lithosphere), but like nothing the planet has ever seen before.

“I would argue that domesticated animals and plants, as well as humans, are parts of the technosphere,” said Haff. “These are in effect manufactured by the technosphere for its own use on the basis of genetic blueprints appropriated from the biosphere.”

Electronic waste in Agbogbloshie dump, Accra, Ghana. E-waste trash pickers risk their health in search of metals they can sell.
Electronic waste in Agbogbloshie dump, Accra, Ghana. E-waste trash pickers risk their health in search of metals they can sell. Photograph: Andrew McConnell / Alamy/Alamy

We’ve reached a point, according to Haff, where we can’t just shut technology off. As such, the technosphere as a whole is elevated above humanity.

“In this sense, the technosphere already generates its own living tissue, thus integrating with biology,” noted Haff.

Although, humans were the original progenitors of this technology, we have, in effect, lost control. Like Doctor Frankenstein from Mary Shelley’s great novel, not only has our creation asserted its own agency, but it now wields its power over us.

Although the paper relies heavily on the idea of the technosphere as a primary driver of both the extinction crisis and current geological changes, not every researcher in the study agreed with the idea.

“I am a dissenter on the use of this term…I would have eliminated it if it were up to me alone. I find the term ‘technosphere’ neither appropriate nor accurate…It makes it appear that technology is the defining element of human alteration of the Earth system,” Ellis said, adding that “humans and societies create and sustain technologies, not the other way around – though of course there is a tight coupling of societies with technologies.”

Ellis called such an idea not only “inaccurate,” but defeatist.

“[The concept of the technosphere] is politically and socially disenfranchising and alienating people and societies – and their potential to guide, at least to some degree, this global human force behind the anthropocene.”

To Ellis the key is not the rise of technology, but rather humanity’s incredibly rich social life. He maintains that our “ultrasocialness” is the major driving force behind the changes on the planet we are witnessing today.

Pig carcasses hanging in an abattoir in Yorkshire, England. Demand for meat, which is rising globally, is a significant driver of deforestation, habitat destruction and climate change.
Pig carcasses hanging in an abattoir in Yorkshire, England. Demand for meat, which is rising globally, is a significant driver of deforestation, habitat destruction and climate change. Photograph: FLPA/John Eveson/REX/FLPA/John Eveson/REX

“It was behaviorally modern humans, with their ultrasocial behaviors and complex societies that spread across the Earth, became increasingly larger scale societies, ultimately gaining the capacity to transform the entire Earth. Technology is not the driver of Earth system change – social change is the cause of this.”

But Haff insists that technology, not modern humans, is the “new and enabling ingredient” for global transformation – including the potential for mass extinction.

“The technosphere is not meant as a stand in or short hand for a supposed ‘novel human force’ in the earth system,” he explained. “The name ‘technosphere’ arose in part to discourage such an idea. There exists no such human force. What is present, and novel, is the collective system of many people and much technology.”

Like Nothing the Earth Has Ever Seen

Regardless of whether scientists stress the role of humans or technology in transforming the planet, the researchers all agree that the arrival of modern Homo sapiens has transformed the planet. But how much?

“If humans were to go extinct tomorrow, then our impact on the biosphere would be recognisable as an epoch boundary – like the boundary between the Pleistocene and Holocene,” Williams pointed out. “After us, a few tens to hundreds of thousands of years in the future, the biosphere would find a new equilibrium without us, and probably with its biodiversity largely intact.”

Trucks and machinery along routes within the Suncore Oil Sands site near to Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta. Canada's tar sands is one of the largest industrial projects on the planet, turning boreal forest, rivers and bogs into a scarred landscape.
Trucks and machinery along routes within the Suncore Oil Sands site near to Fort McMurray in Northern Alberta. Canada’s tar sands is one of the largest industrial projects on the planet, turning boreal forest, rivers and bogs into a scarred landscape. Photograph: David Levene/David Levene

Or as the paper puts it: “if the technosphere were to collapse what would remain is physical evidence of its history, as a preserved stratigraphic signal in the rocks. This will include a short-lived event bed of ‘urban strata’ and related deposits, recording rapid technospheric evolution and deep roots via preserved tunnels, mines and boreholes; a climate perturbation that might last [100-200,000 years] and a permanent reconfiguration of the biosphere…resulting from the effect of trans-global species invasions and a moderate- to large-scale mass extinction event.”

Okay, but what if we don’t go extinct anytime soon?

“If the changes made to the biosphere by humans continue to accelerate and are sustainable, and if our interaction with the technosphere becomes a major component of Earth’s future trajectory, then the changes can be argued to be really fundamental,” Williams added.

The scientists argue then that the changes would be so extreme, and so unlike anything that the Earth has ever seen before, that it could represent a geological shift as big as the rise of microbes on the planet or the rise of multicellular organisms. For example, imagine a world where humans and their technology effectively control the global temperature through geo-engineering or a world where humans wholeheartedly and deliberately manipulate evolution for their own (or the technosphere’s) ends.

Zaleasiewicz said that while some researchers argue that such changes could turn out all right, most argue the still-developing Anthropocene “will mostly be a very bumpy ride for humanity, and for life in general, as it evolves,” adding that “previous perturbations of the Earth system have seen both winners and losers, so perhaps that is a more realistic scenario.”

So, WTF Do We DO?

The researchers are clear: we can’t go back in time, to some pre-human, arguably pristine environment.

“There is no ‘ending’: the challenges of the Anthropocene are permanent,” said Ellis. “Humanity and nature are inextricably coupled for the foreseeable future.”

Moreover, according to Zaleasiewicz, the momentum is not on our side.

The dead body of a Indian rhinoceros, which was killed by poachers this year in Assam, India. Several rhino species are on the edge of extinction due to demand for their horns.
The dead body of a Indian rhinoceros, which was killed by poachers this year in Assam, India. Several rhino species are on the edge of extinction due to demand for their horns. Photograph: Anuwar Ali Hazarika / Barcroft I/Anuwar Hazarika / Barcroft India

“There’s clearly a rapidly moving – and accelerating – dynamic involved, and it can be argued that this is needed and inevitable to feed, clothe and shelter and extra two to three billion people over the next few decades.”

However, even with all that, the scientists say it’s not too late to avoid a total mass extinction and ecological meltdown.

“We are not in a mass extinction event yet, and it’s very important to emphasise that, because it means we can still make changes,” said Williams.

The scientists agree that to avoid mass extinction – and tackle the current environmental crisis – is possible but will require large-scale changes not only in how society operates but how humans view their relation to the natural world.

“It’s about recognising that we are stewards of nature and that every action we make will have an effect on the biosphere somewhere,” said Williams. “If at a very basic level we could get people to make that connection then we would have fundamentally changed human behavior.”

But how do we do this?

“I think there are parallels with getting people to recognize that ‘drunk driving’ is a mistake or ‘wearing a seatbelt is a good thing,’” Williams went on. “I remember the campaigns from the 1970s and though this might sound glib, it’s fundamental to the problem. Humans are the problem, but they are also the solution.”

Ellis agreed that humans must move on from the view that we are somehow separate from nature (or that nature somehow exists separate from us) and, instead, embrace our role as “permanent shapers and stewards of the biosphere and the species within it.”

He also sees several positive trends underway, including urbanisation, rising awareness of the plight of biodiversity, the increasing potential for societies to create change at large scales and the possibility of decoupling of the global economy from ecosystem destruction.

The baiji, or Yangtze river dolphin, was declared functionally extinct in 2006. The species, which has swam the Yangtze for some 20 million years, was the first cetacean to go extinct due to human activities. Overfishing, habitat destruction, electrofishing, boat traffic, dam-building and pollution all likely played a role in the species' demise.
The baiji, or Yangtze river dolphin, was declared functionally extinct in 2006. The species, which has swam the Yangtze for some 20 million years, was the first cetacean to go extinct due to human activities. Overfishing, habitat destruction, electrofishing, boat traffic, dam-building and pollution all likely played a role in the species’ demise. Photograph: AFP/AFP

“Still, the large scale of modern societies is daunting,” Ellis cautioned, “and for these trends to reach their full potential will require far greater strategic effort – just letting things happen will not yield a better future.”

According to him practical solutions “will require a combination of conservation, restoration, rewilding, engineering, emergence, and design.”

“We must recognize that there is no option to ‘leave the Earth alone,’ “ Ellis added. “The responsibility for the future of the planet is ours now.”

It’s a big responsibility – bigger than any other species on Earth has ever faced – and so far we’ve hardly proved ourselves up to it. But there is still time. And time means hope – but not without action.

the guardian



27 Comments on "The Four Horsemen Of The Sixth Mass Extinction"

  1. Davy on Thu, 22nd Oct 2015 7:26 pm 

    Sobering! But nothing new.

    We will have no chance, did you read that, nada, without our population dropping quickly by an order of magnitude. There are very few ways to get that job done through human effort. The only one I can think of is a NUK war. Otherwise lets just make the best of something horrible at least we are alive for now. Walk in nature and enjoy her while she still is enjoyable. Try not to fly a jet to somewhere to enjoy her or you are just rubbing salt in her wounds.

  2. onlooker on Thu, 22nd Oct 2015 7:42 pm 

    The big irony in all of this is the rich countries by consuming so wantonly and insatiably have been a large part of the unsustainability. Yet it is not the the poor very overpopulated countries who pay for this. Agreed, one way or another population must decrease and consumption must also be reigned in. The devil is in the details.

  3. onlooker on Thu, 22nd Oct 2015 7:43 pm 

    Yet it is now the the poor very overpopulated countries who pay for this.

  4. makati1 on Thu, 22nd Oct 2015 8:08 pm 

    Change is coming. The world is resetting for the next ecology that will rule, and humans will not be part of it. All that human meat will return to the ground to fertilize the next genesis. Whether it takes 100 years or 100 minutes, humans are a dying species.

  5. makati1 on Thu, 22nd Oct 2015 9:35 pm 

    In related news…

    “NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is out with a study predicting that Los Angeles has a 99.9% chance of experiencing an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.0 or greater within the next two and a half years.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/10/22/newser-los-angeles-earthquake-nasa/74385538/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatoday-newstopstories

    Drought, debt, saltwater intrusion, and now the San Andreas getting ready to shake it all up. The American food basket is in deep do do.

  6. claman on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 12:34 am 

    Reinstate child mortallity and contagious diseases. Welcome ebola the next time it comes knocking at the door. It’s easy to do. You just do nothing, and let nature have it her way .

  7. GregT on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 12:45 am 

    Nature is eventually going to have her way no matter what we do claman. That’s just the way that overshoot works. The further into overshoot we go, the greater the consequences will be.

  8. claman on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 12:54 am 

    Greg, But it can’t happen fast enough. If elephants, rhinos tigers and lions were to go extinct, I would hate myself for having done nothing while I could

  9. GregT on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 1:08 am 

    Claman,

    Unfortunately, we have already set in motion a very sad future for the planet and all life on it. You can do something to make yourself feel better, but it isn’t going to stop what’s already baked into the cake. We’re headed to 4-6 degrees by 2050, without any positive feedbacks taken into consideration. A runaway greenhouse event pretty much guarantees a dead planet, for all intents and purposes.

  10. GregT on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 1:23 am 

    The methane bomb is of great immediate concern claman. Many scientists believe that it has already kicked in. If it has, we don’t have until 2050. 2030 would probably be a more reasonable timeline.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2ckkxEnWpA

  11. makati1 on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 2:55 am 

    When I was born, there were still unknown areas on the map of the world. Africa was known for it’s wild animals, not it’s oil and wars. The Middle East was the historic beginnings of knowledge and science, not chaos. Europe was cleaning up after WW2 and prosperity was the future for the US.

    Now, 70 years later, I may get to see the end of humanity and most other life on the planet, the climates change and the threat of nuclear annihilation grow, the chaos that will cause, and the suffering of my friends and family. Bummer!

  12. peakyeast on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 5:54 am 

    So we didnt plan this and thats a good thing?

    What happened was we have known for 50 years we were destroying the entire earth – you had to be an ignorant moron not to observe this (well okay – those are the majority, but that not something good).

    And yet we do NOTHING except accelerate the destruction and the very people that should have acted as leadership actually has actively discredited this knowledge.

    And the scientist thinks this is a positive aspect?

    WTF !!

  13. onlooker on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 6:10 am 

    Boy did you say it like it is Peakyeast!

  14. kanon on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 6:31 am 

    I theorize that the cultural definitions of social status are the main culprit. The money culture defines everything in self-referential terms mislabeled as economics. Status is determined by bank ledgers. All activities, including non-profit or charitable, must advance the social status quo or they are not tolerated. Social hierarchies do not permit competition. Since effective change is so urgently needed, I suggest we focus on changing the cultural parameters of status. I apologize if my words do not adequately express the idea.

  15. onlooker on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 7:11 am 

    Kanon, by cultural parameters do you mean like how we define status or represent it? Perhaps meaning that we should seek status on the basis of having high morality and integrity, of being of service to others, of being a productive and valued member of society. As opposed to our self-indulgent and narcissistic current equating of status.

  16. kanon on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 7:20 am 

    It is fine to include high morality, but you have to remember that dominance and entitlement are components of status, and perhaps the main components. I think it is necessary to approach it from an institutional perspective. Something like replacing the federal reserve combined with favoring nature preserves and organic agriculture, giving the financial and political advantage to these more altruistic activities. As I see it, only total desperation will allow such changes. But total desperation is coming, so I think we can try to be prepared.

  17. Davy on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 7:32 am 

    Kanon, good luck with that. There is zero possibility of such a fundamental change without the kind of disruption that will bring the economy down. Once the economy goes down millions die from a failed food chain. There is little we can do but nothing we can do to maintain those higher level niceties you just spoke about.

  18. kanon on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 8:04 am 

    Davy, you are showing a lack of imagination. Even M. Thatcher knew how important it was to establish the idea that “there is no other way.” A reformed status system will not be accomplished by preachy do-gooders, but by people with the same ruthlessness and determination as the current masters. My point is that we should be laying the intellectual and philosophical groundwork now. Who is to say that organic farmers have to be peace loving hippies?

  19. Rodster on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 8:16 am 

    I read this article earlier this week. When you step back and look at the big picture it ain’t pretty. You also have to factor in the very low estimates of 7-8 million tons of plastics, garbage and toxic chemicals we dump in the ocean floor each year.

    Besides all the fossil fuels and coal we’ve burned over the past century you can add Geoengineering as another hugh problem.

    Humans are its own worst enemy.

  20. Kenz300 on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 8:39 am 

    Climate Change, declining fish stocks, droughts, floods, pollution, water and food shortages all stem from the worlds worst environmental problem……. OVER POPULATION.

    Yet the world adds 80 million more mouths to feed, clothe, house and provide energy and water for every year… this is unsustainable…

    Pope Francis’s edict on climate change will anger deniers and US churches | World news | The Guardian
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/27/pope-francis-edict-climate-change-us-rightwing

  21. BobInget on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 8:45 am 

    http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-mexico-braces-for-patricia-20151023-story.html

    LA Times:

    Hurricane Patricia headed toward southwestern Mexico Friday as a monster Category 5 storm, the strongest ever in the Western Hemisphere that forecasters said could make a “potentially catastrophic landfall” later in the day.

    Residents of a stretch of Mexico’s Pacific Coast dotted with resorts and fishing villages on Thursday boarded up homes and bought supplies ahead of Patricia’s arrival.

    With maximum sustained winds near 200 mph, Patricia is the strongest storm ever recorded in the eastern Pacific or in the Atlantic, said Dave Roberts, a hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

    Patricia’s power was comparable to that of Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 dead or missing in the Philippines two years ago, according to the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization.

    In Mexico, officials declared a state of emergency in dozens of municipalities in Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco states that contain the bustling port of Manzanillo and the posh resort of Puerto Vallarta. The governor of Colima ordered schools closed on Friday, when the storm was forecast to make what the Hurricane Center called a “potentially catastrophic landfall.”

    See the most-read stories this hour >>
    According to the 2010 census, there were more than 7.3 million inhabitants in Jalisco state and more than 255,000 in Puerto Vallarta municipality. There were more than 650,000 in Colima state, and more than 161,000 in Manzanillo.

    Rain pounded Manzanillo late Thursday while people took last-minute measures ahead of Patricia, which quickly grew from a tropical storm into a Category 5 hurricane, leaving authorities scrambling to make people safe.

    At a Wal-Mart in Manzanillo, shoppers filled carts with non-perishables as a steady rain fell outside.

    Veronica Cabrera, shopping with her young son, said Manzanillo tends to flood with many small streams overflowing their banks. She said she had taped her windows at home to prevent them from shattering.

    Alejandra Rodriguez, shopping with her brother and mother, was buying 10 liters of milk, a large jug of water and items like tuna and canned ham that do not require refrigeration or cooking. The family already blocked the bottoms of the doors at their home to keep water from entering.

    Manzanillo’s “main street really floods and cuts access to a lot of other streets. It ends up like an island,” Rodriguez said.

    In Puerto Vallarta, restaurants and stores taped or boarded-up windows, and residents raced to stores for last-minute purchases ahead of the storm.

    The Hurricane Center in Miami warned that preparations should be rushed to completion, saying the storm could cause coastal flooding, destructive waves and flash floods.

    “This is an extremely dangerous, potentially catastrophic hurricane,” center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.

    Feltgen said Patricia also poses problems for Texas. Forecast models indicate that after the storm breaks up over land, remnants of its tropical moisture will likely combine with and contribute to heavy rainfall that is already soaking Texas independently of the hurricane, he said.

    “It’s only going to make a bad situation worse,” he said.

    In Colima, authorities handed out sandbags to help residents protect their homes from flooding.

    By early Friday, Patricia’s maximum sustained winds had increased to 200 mph — a Category 5 storm, the highest designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale used to quantify a hurricane’s wind strength.

    Patricia was centered about 145 miles southwest of the Pacific resort of Manzanillo early Friday and was moving northwest at 12 mph on a projected track to come ashore between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta sometime Friday afternoon or evening.

    Some fluctuations in intensity were forecast before then, but the Hurricane Center said it was expected to be an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 storm when it made landfall.

    A hurricane warning was in effect for the Mexican coast from San Blas to Punta San Telmo, a stretch that includes Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. A broader area was under hurricane watch, tropical storm warning or tropical storm watch.

    The Hurricane Center said Patricia was expected to bring rainfall of 6 to 12 inches, with isolated amounts of up to 20 inches in some locations. Tropical storm conditions were expected to reach land late Thursday or early Friday, complicating any remaining preparation work at that point.

  22. Davy on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 8:54 am 

    No Kannon, it is a fundamental difference in you believing in a status quo but only an adapted one. I am telling you the status quo is now “as-is” then it ain’t. There will be no transition to something better only decay into ugliness. You can believe in your imagination optimism but I will side with reality. Until you cornucopoians of all stripes and colors show me something with a basis in science with a realistic model that scales I will diminishing and discredit your message. I do this with humility and respect for reality.

    Your message is just another delusional fantasy in my humble opinion. If I could imagine something I would imagine your imagination optimisim but I can’t believe in Santa and the tooth fairy anymore. I want what you want I just can’t believe it is possible. I want more than anything for you folks to prove me wrong. I want to be an old man with a wild beard considered mentally not right. I want to be called a doom freak with all being well. Bring it on please but don’t tell me stories.

  23. sunweb on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 10:52 am 

    White horse – Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. We, humans, in our hubris, are on the white horse.
    Red Horse – WAR
    Black Horse – FAMINE
    Pale Horse – PLAQUES AND DISEASE
    All of these plus our assault on the earth whether climate, oceans, rivers, chemicals are unfolding now. These are reality. My partner and I are developing an orchard/garden/resilient place to give the next generation a leg up in whatever comes. If it is extinction, well, so be it. I am finding great joy in the labor and the creating.

  24. Davy on Fri, 23rd Oct 2015 11:31 am 

    Some good doomer music

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=selfqEH-JnY

  25. apneaman on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 7:42 pm 

    A megacity without water: São Paulo’s drough

    http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2015/10/a-megacity-without-water-sao-paulos.html

    The Amazon drained forest: Incredible pictures show devastating effect of drought ravishing Brazil in area’s worst dry spell for 100 years

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3288144/The-Amazon-drained-forest-Incredible-pictures-devastating-effect-drought-ravishing-Brazil-area-s-worst-dry-spell-100-years.html

  26. apneaman on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 7:50 pm 

    Video shows blasts at nuclear waste dump site that shut down U.S. 95

    “A video of Sunday’s explosions that preceded a fire in a state-owned radioactive waste trench at the US Ecology site 10 miles south of Beatty shows white smoke emanating from the soil before the ground erupts, shooting debris and more white smoke into the air.

    The 40-second cellphone video, released Thursday by the Nevada Department of Public Safety two days after the Las Vegas Review-Journal had requested it, was taken from a berm atop Trench No. 11 overlooking the soil cap of Trench No. 14.

    Trench No. 14 is where containers of low-level radioactive waste were buried in part of a pit the size of a football stadium in the 1970s.

    Authorities shut down a 140-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 95 for nearly 24 hours because of the fire and flash floods during Sunday’s heavy rains in Nye County. Beatty is about 117 miles northwest of Las Vegas.”

    http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/fire-rescue/video-shows-blasts-nuclear-waste-dump-site-shut-down-us-95

  27. apneaman on Sun, 25th Oct 2015 7:53 pm 

    Ho hum another extreme weather record gets broken. We almost normalized on that now.

    Lando sets record rainfall level in Cordillera history

    http://thestandard.com.ph/news/-provinces/190315/lando-sets-record-rainfall-level-in-cordillera-history-.html

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