The passenger pigeon, the Tasmanian tiger, and the Baiji (Yangtze river dolphin) are among the most recognized casualties of what many experts refer to as the sixth mass extinction. This is a consequence of human activities leading to the vanishing of vertebrate animal species at rates hundreds of times faster than their natural pace of extinction.
However, a new study conducted by Stanford University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicates that the crisis may run even deeper. Each of the three species above was also the last member of its genus, the higher category into which taxonomists sort species. And they aren’t alone.
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In 2023, Jeep rolled out a new edition of its popular four-wheel-drive SUV. For the first time since the company introduced the car in 1986, air conditioning wasn’t an option, it was a must. This appears to be the end of an era: “The last car in the U.S. without standard air conditioning,” read the headline of an article in the automotive press, “finally gives up the fight against refrigerant.”
“Instrumental reason is at the core of the emerging bio-tech paradigm, which is rapidly increasing the social, ecological, and spiritual degradation produced by civilization as a model of dominance. To counter this apocalyptic scenario based on the domination of nature, I propose poetic reason as the foundational matrix to move away from the instrumentalization of life in order to reshape in a more harmonious way the coexistence of human beings with each other, the environment, the cosmological order, and the animal realm.”
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A little over two centuries ago, in the year 1800, roughly a billion people called Earth home.
Just a century later, it had grown by another 600 million.
Today, there are around 8 billion people on the planet.
That sort of growth is unsustainable for our ecosphere, risking a ‘population correction’ that according to a new study could occur before the century is out.
The prediction is the work of population ecologist William Rees from the University of British Columbia in Canada. He argues that we’re using up Earth’s resources at an unsustainable rate, and that our natural tendencies as humans make it difficult for us to correct this “advanced ecological overshoot”.
The result could be some kind of civilizational collapse that ‘corrects’ the world’s population, Rees says – one that could happen before the end of the century in a worst case scenario. Only the richest and most resilient societies would be left.
“Homo sapiens has evolved to reproduce exponentially, expand geographically, and consume all available resources,” Rees writes in his published paper.