What would humans have to do to really live sustainability with the world’s ecosystems?
I got a shock when I read about the pattern of species extinctions which is taking place that form a part of what is called the “Sixth Mass Extinction.” It turns out that man’s adverse influence on ecosystems didn’t start a few hundred years ago, when we started using fossil fuels. Instead it started way back, when man was still a hunter-gatherer, and there were fewer than 100,000 people on earth.
According to Niles Eldridge, in describing the Sixth Extinction:
- Phase One began when the first modern humans began to disperse to different parts of the world about 100,000 years ago.
- Phase Two began about 10,000 years ago when humans turned to agriculture.
In this post, I’ll explain a little more about the Sixth Mass Extinction, and how fossil fuel use has contributed to it in recent years.
I’ll also talk about a new bottleneck that humans seem to be reaching related to oil limits and financial crises that grow out of these oil limits, with the current example being the European Debt Crisis. Depending how this and other debt crises work out, it seems possible that human population will decline. If this should happen, it could lead to a reduced problem with species extinction.
But the whole situation illustrates just how difficult attaining sustainability with world ecosystems is likely to be. Humans by their nature seem not to mesh well with world ecosystems. Unless humans become completely extinct, it seems likely that humans will always have difficulty living in a truly sustainable way.