Last week while I was in NY I read E.O. Wilson’s book The Creation. Here are my favorite snippets:
Nature dies hard. Even in the parking lot extremum, notice the resilient little weed that peeps from a crack in the concrete, the tuft of grass holding on at the curb, the faint colorous span of the cyanobacterial colony plastered next to the ticket kiosk. Look closely for tiny creatures that thrive in their parsimonious midst: the mite, the nematode worm, the caterpillar struggling to grow into a moth. These last stand wild organisms, the vanguard of Earth’s inevitable return to green and blue, wait patiently for us to change our mind. Their species are still able to give back some of what we remain so remorselessly bent on destroying.
The human hammer having fallen, the sixth mass extinction has begun. This spasm of permanent loss is expected, if it is not abated, to reach the end-of-Mesozoic level by then end of the century. We will then enter what poets and scientists alike may choose to call the Eremozoic Era — The Age of Loneliness.
Except from giant meteorite strikes or other catastrophes every 100 million years or so, Earth has never experienced anything like the contemporary human juggernaut. With the global species extinction rate now exceeding the global species birthrate at least a hundredfold, and soon to increase ten times that much, and with the birthrate falling through the loss of sites where evolution can occur; the number of species is plummeting. The original level of biodiversity is not likely to be regained in any period of time that has meaning for the human mind.