Global Extinction Emergency
Present day human impacts are causing global extinctions comparable in number to the dinosaur extinction of 65 million years ago. Research reports across all plant and animal groups are documenting falling numbers, and the losses are speeding up.
The loss of species and ecosystems is at least as dangerous as climate change. People cause both as we use and harvest soils, plants, animals, and fossil fuels. Soon we will begin to reach the limits of nature’s reserves. As marine fisheries and farming regions lose their productivity, there will be moments when the failure of one region to meet the needs of people will cause demands to shift to other regions. Then, like falling dominos, the cascading failure of ecosystems will force the same desperate international migrations that have already begun due to climate change. The great danger is that once it begins, the cascade of extinction and ecosystem failure will ripple around the world and will be unstoppable.
Here’s a story about the status of international efforts to halt biodiversity loss. As you can see, the extinction emergency is not being treated as an emergency. We need another Greta Thunberg to arise and lead the protest against extinction. And we need it now.
Deforestation in Indonesian to make way for a palm oil concession. Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Greenpeace
“The world must thrash out a new deal for nature in the next two years or humanity could be the first species to document our own extinction, warns the United Nation’s biodiversity chief.” —The Guardian.
Government Inaction on the Climate Emergency
More than 90% of the countries signing the Paris Climate Agreement have failed to meet their target emission reductions. Some countries, notably the U. S., have instead grown their emissions beyond the worst-case predictions.
The original goal was to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees celsius (2.7 degrees fahrenheit). However, national actions that would keep warming below 2 degrees celsius (3.6 degrees fahrenheit) were acceptable. Only three countries are on track to do either of these. Most are on the way to increases of 3 or 4 degrees celsius. Scientist fear that these higher increases will wipe out human civilization.
Government Inaction on the Mass Extinction of Wildlife
At the same time global warming is threatening humanity, global wildlife numbers are plummeting. This itself threatens the survival of human civilization even without the compounding effect of global warming. Under threat here is the soil, the foundation of life on Earth. And in the oceans, the delicate chemical and temperature balance that allows abundant marine life to exist.
As the majority of the world’s citizens become aware that both climate and extinction are in danger of spiraling out of control, there are growing efforts to direct our governments to take action. Since the time India separated from the British Empire, we have all known that peaceful demonstration and protest can force major changes. The Student Strike, the progressive politics embodied by the Green New Deal, and The Sunrise Movement are starting to have an impact on government policies. It is essential that these groups welcome and endorse the efforts of the Extinction Rebellion. It is essential that all of us take part in local demonstrations sponsored by these and other groups concerned with avoiding extinction.
Photo: Rupert Read
Here are the basic demands of the Extinction Rebellion. I expect these will be expanded in the months ahead:
These demands only represent XR US. They are still in the process of development.
- That the Government must tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency, it must reverse all policies not in alignment with that position and must work alongside the media to communicate the urgency for change including what individuals, communities and businesses need to do.
The Government must enact legally-binding policies to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and take further action to remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases. It must cooperate internationally so that the global economy runs on no more than half a planet’s worth of resources per year.
We do not trust our Government to make the bold, swift and long-term changes necessary to achieve these changes and we do not intend to hand further power to our politicians. Instead we demand a Citizens’ Assembly to oversee the changes, as we rise from the wreckage, creating a democracy fit for purpose.
We demand a just transition that prioritizes the most vulnerable people and indigenous sovereignty; establishes reparations and remediation led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, people of color and poor communities for years of environmental injustice, establishes legal rights for ecosystems to thrive and regenerate in perpetuity, and repairs the effects of ongoing ecocide to prevent extinction of human and all species, in order to maintain a livable, just planet for all.
The first U. S. XR (Extinction Rebellion) events begin tomorrow.
There are many growing threats to nature and humanity. The growing human population that now exceeds the Earth’s carrying capacity is producing toxic wastes and is eliminating natural habitat. Food and water shortages for people and wildlife are causing hardship, death, and for wildlife, extinctions. Those first loose snowballs of the coming avalanches of destruction are rolling by and the only way we will break the inertia of capitalism and its plutocratic and kleptocratic governments is to take control of our political systems. The hour is late, but there is still time to save some of our planet’s health and beauty. The message below came to me from the Alliance of World Scientists (AWS) that formed after last year’s Warning to Humanity.
You may wish to join in the “. . . upcoming global day of public demonstrations on March 15th, with details available at fridaysforfuture.org. This event was inspired by Greta Thunberg, the internationally famous Swedish youth activist whose one person Student Strike for the Climate has engaged hundreds of thousands of students around the world to demand policy change that considers their climate future with the utmost clarity and gravity that it deserves.
The youth demonstrating that day will be joined by additional thousands of adults (including scientists) who come to support their demands, which are demands for the kind of action that will benefit of all life on Earth. We make you aware of the day of demonstrations should you wish to personally attend, or share the information with your students, family, or friends. (Map of global events here.)” — Alliance of World Scientists
See Greta on this short video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5iHuSFJIEI