An the end of my words, an estimated three to four other species will be extinct. A tropical salamander, a shiny beetle, a nondescript lichen or a fungus – it could be anything. Having existed for perhaps millions of years, they will not survive the next thirty minutes and will disappear irrevocably from the face of the earth. A few hours later it could already be 35. By the same time tomorrow we will have lost about 150 species, and in a year’s time we would be talking about a total of 55,000 species extinct over that period. And it won’t stop there. The number will continue to rise because we are in the midst of the sixth major extinction wave our planet has experienced. The first, however, caused by human activity. (The last wave happened 65 million years ago when a meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs.)
Up to 55,000 species per year: The figure is not the apocalyptic vision of some eco-radicals, but an estimate from the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, a multilateral agreement between 196 countries. The UN Biodiversity Platform has calculated that of the eight million species currently alive, one million are threatened with extinction within one or a few generations. And that’s a conservative estimate.
In May and June of this year, an average carbon dioxide concentration of 421 ppm (parts per million) was measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory, a scientific research station in Hawaii, 3400 meters above sea level. This number may not mean much to most, and yet it is probably the most important news of the year. Let’s imagine our atmosphere as a swimming pool filled with a million dark and light blue spheres – these are the oxygen and nitrogen molecules. There are also a few bright red balls floating around in this blue mass. There aren’t many, just a few hundred, but they are very hot and stay so for a long time, heating up the entire tank. That’s the CO2-Molecules.
The landscape had been swept empty, the fridge was stuffed full
Now the ratio of 421 red balls to a million blue balls is alarmingly high. Mauna Loa is a volcano, a rocky lunar landscape. It is also the place where daily observations of the Earth’s atmosphere have been made since 1958: the longest recorded series of data that we have. When records began 64 years ago, the CO2-Grade at only 315 parts per million. From then on everything went very quickly. From 315 to 421 red spheres in less than a lifetime: That’s a huge increase considering that the number has fluctuated between 170 and no more than 300 ppm over the past 800,000 years, with all its severe ice ages and warmer phases. At 421 ppm we have entered a danger zone not seen in millions of years.
#Colonialism #Climate #Change #Tropic #Cancer