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World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction pt. 2

Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sat 21 Oct 2017, 13:46:07

I can give you a personal perspective. My Grandfather allowed open pit coal mining on a portion of his land in Arkansas, and regretted it until his death. There are a few trees and some brush growing in those holes, but there never was any reclamation, and that particular coal company went bankrupt before they could be legally forced to reclaim the land. Arkansas in the 1960s was not a hotbed of environmental activism - nor is it today, for that matter.
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby pstarr » Sat 21 Oct 2017, 16:06:56

KJ, your grandfathers tragedy can not be minimized. It is awful for him and his legacy. The example supports my contention that this particular industrial abuse is long-lasting perhaps interminable. That open pit mine brought wealth for a very short time to those who profited, perhaps even your family and the local economy. It made somebody somewhere wealthy for a short time, but ruined the land seemingly forever in the human life span.

However it is not national tragedy.

How much land has been disturbed by all surface mining in the United States?
Estimate: 8.4 million acres

That is 13,125 square miles, an area roughly the size of Maryland spread over the entire United States. All the coal, copper, aluminum and every other mineral that built this country did not destroy the national ecosystem. It certainly is not a cause for a Great Extinction. If one exclude surface chemical pollution damage and GW fears (both overstated in my opinion) from the equation one can see that the planet, the earth entire ecosystem is intact and will prevail.
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby ralfy » Sat 21 Oct 2017, 18:18:41

pstarr wrote:Specify the ecosystem and the damage level. It depends. On one hand, a strip mined mountain in West Virginia will not heal in a thousand years as not only is the top soil been removed but the underlying rock has been pulverized. But a tall grass prairie? Perhaps a few decades?


So, destroying a tall grass prairie's acceptable?
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby ralfy » Sat 21 Oct 2017, 18:27:44

Ibon wrote:I think Pstarr's point that it depends on the ecosystem is correct as is your critique that forest succession happens in stages. The practice of planting non native grasses to bind the loosen rubble has resulted in forest succession taking more time but still in relevant terms of ecological restoration the forest will recover within a century. Water quality, toxicity etc. with hilltop mining does have longer time consequences in terms of aquatic ecology.

The main point here though is that as long as we preserve refuge populations and refuge intact ecosystems the ability and resiliency of nature to recolonize former human landscapes is in most cases quite impressive. Here in Totumas we have lots of rainfall and pretty fertile volanic soils. In only 7 years after removing livestock from some of our upper pastures there are pioneer tree species already 30 feet tall and we are quickly moving into the next stages of succession with tree seedlings in the under story that represent climax primary forest species. BIrd diversity has sky rocketed since pioneer species of trees and shrubs are big fruit and seed producers.



My understanding is that the reason why "sixth" appears in the thread title is that there were five other extinction events in the past. During those times, there were no human beings to create "refuge populations," and mostly new species emerged after each event.

In which case, a human predator can argue that the need to even create such refuges becomes irrelevant given the argument that life (not necessarily specific species of plants and animals) will always bounce back.

But I think this thread is about human predators worrying about themselves.
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby pstarr » Sat 21 Oct 2017, 18:49:56

ralfy wrote:
pstarr wrote:Specify the ecosystem and the damage level. It depends. On one hand, a strip mined mountain in West Virginia will not heal in a thousand years as not only is the top soil been removed but the underlying rock has been pulverized. But a tall grass prairie? Perhaps a few decades?


So, destroying a tall grass prairie's acceptable?

I didn't say that. It is a shame we destroyed the tall grass prairie, native Americans culture and the great herds, buffalo, pronghorn grizzlies and others. I know that.

Neither kind of ecosystem destruction (mining/prairie, long/short term) is a sign of Great Extinction. The Greatest Saddest Extinction will be the coming mass dieoff of humans. :cry: Good news for the rest :) 8)
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby dohboi » Sat 21 Oct 2017, 22:48:36

ralfy wrote, clinging to false hope:

"...life (not necessarily specific species of plants and animals) will always bounce back..."

But of course we know that it will not 'always bounce back,' and we precisely do not know if it will 'bounce back' this time, at least not to anything like the very full, diverse vibrancy that existed on the planet before h. sapiens sapiens came on the scene.

But everyone needs some kind of myth to hold on to in these troubled times, so if that's what you need, hold on tight...
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Sat 21 Oct 2017, 23:07:18

There are seed banks and frozen animal embryos in multiple locations all over the world. Methinks that with this technology, we can restore a great deal of the lost diversity and hasten the recovery of the environment. This particular extinction is different from the five prior extinctions.
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby onlooker » Sun 22 Oct 2017, 11:49:21

Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... opulations
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby pstarr » Sun 22 Oct 2017, 12:15:28

KaiserJeep wrote:There are seed banks and frozen animal embryos in multiple locations all over the world. Methinks that with this technology, we can restore a great deal of the lost diversity and hasten the recovery of the environment. This particular extinction is different from the five prior extinctions.

There are 37 species among the seal Family Pinnipedia, which includes eared seals, sea lions, walrus, and earless seals. There are 8 species of the common minke whale. Each has evolved to a particular ecological niche over the space of 10's of millions of years. How many of them have been frozen and cataloged? I'll bet none.
The Muroid families are divided into six families, 20 subfamilies, around 275 to 285 genera, and at least 1250 to 1300 species. The most common “true” mouse is the house mouse, or scientifically known as Mus musculus species of rodents.

Man's technology is puny. Mother Earth is HUGE and fecund. :shock: 8)
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby dohboi » Sun 22 Oct 2017, 14:37:35

Well done, p. Better stated than I could muster at the moment (which would likely have just been some expletives)... :-D :-D

Meanwhile:

insectivorous birds declining in N. America

http://www.ace-eco.org/vol5/iss2/art1/
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby pstarr » Sun 22 Oct 2017, 15:38:42

dohboi wrote:Well done, p. Better stated than I could muster at the moment (which would likely have just been some expletives)... :-D :-D

Meanwhile:

insectivorous birds declining in N. America

http://www.ace-eco.org/vol5/iss2/art1/

If that p is me . . . then tnx :)

dohboi, as you well know I am neither a techtopian or a climate doomer. Yes, we will continue to abuse the earth until our population collapses (soon enough). And so it may be too late for some Grand Species like the Mountain Gorilla, Orangutan, tiger and others. Their old-growth giant forests will not regrow for 1,000 years. It is soooooo sad :cry:

And numerous other little 'insignificant' species like the snail darter will go extinct. But who really cares? The earth abides and speciation and re-introductions of populations can be surprisingly fast.An extraordinarily rapid case of speciation

So things are not so bad for the rest of Goddess Gaia's creatures. Nature abhors a vacuum. :)
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby ralfy » Sun 22 Oct 2017, 23:01:25

pstarr wrote:I didn't say that. It is a shame we destroyed the tall grass prairie, native Americans culture and the great herds, buffalo, pronghorn grizzlies and others. I know that.

Neither kind of ecosystem destruction (mining/prairie, long/short term) is a sign of Great Extinction. The Greatest Saddest Extinction will be the coming mass dieoff of humans. :cry: Good news for the rest :) 8)


But if they'll all bounce back anyway, then why should one bother being concerned? This is even strengthened by the point that a mass die-off of humans is inevitable.
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby ralfy » Sun 22 Oct 2017, 23:08:36

dohboi wrote:ralfy wrote, clinging to false hope:

"...life (not necessarily specific species of plants and animals) will always bounce back..."

But of course we know that it will not 'always bounce back,' and we precisely do not know if it will 'bounce back' this time, at least not to anything like the very full, diverse vibrancy that existed on the planet before h. sapiens sapiens came on the scene.

But everyone needs some kind of myth to hold on to in these troubled times, so if that's what you need, hold on tight...


Actually, that's not my argument but Pete's. What I did note in a previous message is the following:

The word "sixth" in the thread title refers to five previous extinction events, where it is believed that almost all life on earth was destroyed. Rather than bounce back, several species became extinct and new ones emerged.

The difference for the sixth is that it involves humans who are contemplating the point raised in the title thread. It is likely that most of them do not want to die prematurely, which means they want to avoid a mass die-off of humans. In which case, the point that species may bounce back after a few decades or even centuries is not reassuring for them.
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Mon 23 Oct 2017, 00:05:43

I don't know exactly which five previous extinction events they are counting as the five but weren't there two extinction events that were brought about by humans already? One being the extinction of all the large animals in Australia 40,000 years ago when humans first moved in and the other the the extinction of many of the large animals in the Americas when the Clovis peoples arrived 15,000 years ago?
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby Ibon » Mon 23 Oct 2017, 07:39:00

vtsnowedin wrote:I don't know exactly which five previous extinction events they are counting as the five but weren't there two extinction events that were brought about by humans already? One being the extinction of all the large animals in Australia 40,000 years ago when humans first moved in and the other the the extinction of many of the large animals in the Americas when the Clovis peoples arrived 15,000 years ago?


I compare the two examples you give above to normal forces of bio geography and colonization. Like the great faunal exchange that happened when 3 million years ago a land bridge formed between north and south america and this event caused accelerated extinctions due to the reconfiguration of the fauna due to this exchange. South America lost alot of marsupial mammals for example that could not compete with placental mammals that migrated southwards.

The dynamics of life on our planet is a story of extinctions and constant change and adaptation. Homo sapiens being a keystone predator influenced the assemblage of fauna much like a mountain lion did migrating from north to south america.

Today we have full scale genocide of natural ecosystems. The Great Biotic Exchange of natural ecosystems converted over to man made environments along with our slave plants and animals.

It is important to distinguish between normal changes due to bio geography as in the two examples you mentioned and contrast this to the the extinction event happening today due to The Great Biotic Exchange.
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Mon 23 Oct 2017, 09:04:23

Ibon wrote:
It is important to distinguish between normal changes due to bio geography as in the two examples you mentioned and contrast this to the the extinction event happening today due to The Great Biotic Exchange.

Could the woolly mammoths distinguish between a loss of their winter food supply and being hunted by packs of hunters with stone tipped spears that used fires to drive them into traps?
It's been noted that the American mega fauna had survived a dozen or more inter-glacial warm periods as warm as the present one with the only difference of this present one being the addition of humans to the equation.
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby pstarr » Mon 23 Oct 2017, 10:02:02

Speciation occurs because opportunity are opened up for genetic mutations, and result in new phenotypes succeeding. So changes in climate, geology, and ecosystems allow new animals to succeed where other older versions die off. In a particular unique locations. Hence endless variety around the planet.

When these local unique locations are obliterated/homogenized by man's greed and stupidity, then the ecological characteristics that gave rise to unique phenotypes is lost. General purpose animals like rats and mountain lions move in to replace the specialists. The cycle will be repeated after man is gone as it always has been.

The largest genus of mammals turns out to be Crocidura, the white-toothed shrews, with 175 species. You lose some, you obliterate others.
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby Ibon » Mon 23 Oct 2017, 12:54:04

vtsnowedin wrote:
Ibon wrote:
It is important to distinguish between normal changes due to bio geography as in the two examples you mentioned and contrast this to the the extinction event happening today due to The Great Biotic Exchange.


Could the woolly mammoths distinguish between a loss of their winter food supply and being hunted by packs of hunters with stone tipped spears that used fires to drive them into traps?
It's been noted that the American mega fauna had survived a dozen or more inter-glacial warm periods as warm as the present one with the only difference of this present one being the addition of humans to the equation.


This might be a bit of a long post as I want to draw some further distinctions here between the extinction events of the past caused by our ancestors and how this contrasts with the Great Biotic Exchange we see happening now. My comments here are focused on the long term transition of where we need to head as a species if we are interested in preserving technology and some of the benefits of the last 200 years of the industrial revolution.

The mega fauna extinctions of the Pleistocene (mammoth, giant sloths and many other species) that you point out emphasizes the role humans played as keystone species once they colonized North America. We can also witness with this example the early signs of technology use giving humans an inordinate power in their environment. On the other hand the structure of the eco systems where not altered, the prairies, wetlands, forests etc. all remained intact. The human landscapes were restricted to small villages and to a limited degree some ecosystems were modified with the use of fire. The biomass of mammoths was not replaced by the biomass of humans or our slave species in this example. The removal of the mega fauna in the Pleistocene caused by humans reconfigured the existing assemblage of native flora and fauna. There were some winners and some losers . What other mammals prospered with the removal of the mega fauna? We don't know.

Not to get too sidetracked but it is interesting that the mega fauna of Africa never went through the extinction rates we found in the New World when humans colonized the western hemisphere. The reason given is that African mega fauna co evolved with our human ancestors and natural selection honed African species into survival strategies that avoided predation by humans to the points of extinction. The co evolution with humans did not exist in the Western Hemisphere so Mammoths and all the other mega fauna did not have the defense strategies to withstand predation and in a short period of time they went extinct.

Today well over 50% of the terrestial land mass of our planet has now been converted to human landscapes and that of our slave crops as part of this Great Biotic Exchange. Just a few examples to illustrate this but the list could be hundreds or thousands of examples:

* Tall grass prairies converted to monoculture corn and soy in the midwest of the USA
* Lowland tropical forest converted to monoculture oil palm plantations in SE Asia
* Amazon forests converted to pasture in Brazil.
* 90 -100% of natural ecosystems removed and replaced with agricultural lands in the Visayan islands of the
Philippines.

We all know it is not just the simple conversion of biodiverse natural ecosystems over to our slave crops and human habitats. In addition we selectively bred and genetically modified our crops to increase yields and blanketed the land with petro chemicals and agro chemicals to boost the global population up to 7.5 billion.

We know this story. What good does it really do to spend pages and pages re hashing over all the plundering we have done. I would like to now give some examples of where we could go to still preserve technology, still have an abundant population on the planet of hundreds of millions and coexist in the community of life on our mother earth. It is really not that hard structurally.

Natural grasslands could be grazed by ruminants like cattle keeping the prairie habitat intact. You could extract meat and plant resources without wholescale conversion of the land over to soy and corn fields. Of course you could still ear mark up to 50% of the prairie for mono cultures and keep the integrity of the ecosystems and biosphere intact by allowing up to 50% to revert back to prairie habitat.

Coffee is a natural shade tree. It should all be grown in the understory of native forests so that the biodiversity is preserved. We do this here at Totumas. Humans took coffee and developed hybrids that could take full sun. These full sun hybrid varieties are forced and pushed to higher yields by the addition of agro chemicals. So where we had an integrated ecosystem and resource extraction with shade grown coffee we went to monoculture coffee cultivation in full sun because of the increase in yields.

Oil Palm plantations could have been restricted to less than 25% of low land forests in SE Asia allowing the remaining biodiversity to thrive. Same with pasturage in the Amazon.

Al of these changes and suggestions are viable If we correct human overshoot back down to say 500 million.

How about consuming fossil fuels at a rate that carbon sequestration is equal to emissions. What is that magic number once we allow the ppm's of CO2 to return to historical averages? There is more than enough land mass, more than enough energy, more than enough fresh water, marine fisheries etc. etc. to support a stable population if we use the resources inherent in natural ecosystems and apply them to wise steward ship. But not at 7 billion let alone 9 or 11 billion forecasted. But what about 300 million, 1 billion. Those are quality numbers to maintain the genetic integrity of any species.

We may dip lower because there are disruptions to the biosphere due to climate change but the point is still relevant.

We have a current economic system and current over population that forces agricultural practices and energy extraction practices that exasperate the Great Biotic Exchange. Make no mistake this will soon reverse and as it does all the structural elements that have allowed this great biotic exchange to occur will change. You cannot grow markets and maintain profit incentives when the global population depopulates. This will challenge our economic systems. This will create an enormous strain on the existing cultural and economic paradigm that drives globalization. As we dive over the peak of overshoot and contract this will be a highly volative time.

I cannot predict events beyond a broad outline but I can point with the above examples how humans at a certain sustainable number can have their cake and eat it too. Can design and dominate their landscapes with a balanced approach preserving natural ecosystems.

We can do all of this and still have several hundred million strong with fairly generous consumption per capita.

I do not advocate a full scale return to a pristine planet of regenerating natural ecosystems with humans marginalized back down to HG tribes. That is a utopic fantasy of some die hard environmentalists.

There is a balance between exploitation and sustainability.

We need to collectively get burned seriously to find that balance. I can guarantee you the fire has been started and things are heating up,

Humanity has the opportunity the pull the rabbit out of the hat again and not defy Malthus but to acknowledge Malthus moderating the correction avoiding the worst of the die-off scenarios many predict.

I for one remain inherently optimistic.

I look around me and see the evidence right out the window right now. As Baha does. As others do. But make no mistake....this wont be painless. And the reconfigured cultural orientation that can allow this to happen requires brutal external consequences. Brutal.
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby vtsnowedin » Mon 23 Oct 2017, 13:53:06

Ibon wrote:
Today well over 50% of the terrestial land mass of our planet has now been converted to human landscapes and that of our slave crops as part of this Great Biotic Exchange. Just a few examples to illustrate this but the list could be hundreds or thousands of examples:

* Tall grass prairies converted to monoculture corn and soy in the midwest of the USA
* Lowland tropical forest converted to monoculture oil palm plantations in SE Asia
* Amazon forests converted to pasture in Brazil.
* 90 -100% of natural ecosystems removed and replaced with agricultural lands in the Visayan islands of the
Philippines.

.......

Natural grasslands could be grazed by ruminants like cattle keeping the prairie habitat intact. You could extract meat and plant resources without wholescale conversion of the land over to soy and corn fields. Of course you could still ear mark up to 50% of the prairie for mono cultures and keep the integrity of the ecosystems and biosphere intact by allowing up to 50% to revert back to prairie habitat.
............
.

Obviously you haven't driven around the central USA much.
Range and pasture lands are located in all 50 states of the US. Privately owned range and pasture lands makes up over 27% (528 million acres) of the total acreage of the contiguous 48 states, and these lands constitute the largest private lands use category, exceeding both forest land (21%) and crop land (18%).

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nr ... gepasture/
Why would you want to go from 18% crop land mono cultures to 50 %?
But of course the USA is still not that densely populated compared to China and India so I see your point.
I don't think we need to drop human population below two billion but the exact best number is a moot point as we will never agree and execute a plane to reduce population in any organized humane way.
Look for resource wars, economic crashes, disease and pestilence (some of it bio warfare) to crash our population down to well below sustainable levels before we can stop it.
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Re: World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction

Unread postby dohboi » Mon 23 Oct 2017, 15:08:34

"Today we have full scale genocide of natural ecosystems."

Thanks for making that part so clearly, Ibon.
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