Saturday, February 4, 2017
The Biggest Canaries in the Global Coal Mine
If you are an evolution skeptic, you can skip this first two paragraphs of this blog and move down to the third paragraph. But for those who adhere to that Darwinian view, human beings are actually primates. According to SmithsonianMag.com, “[Humans] share more DNA with lemurs, monkeys and apes than they do with other mammals. Genetic research of the last few decades suggests that humans and all living primates evolved from a common ancestor that split from the rest of the mammals at least 65 million years ago. But even before DNA analyses, scientists knew humans belong in the primate order. Carl Linnaeus classified humans with monkeys, apes and other primates in his 18th-century taxonomic system. Even the ancient Greeks recognized similarities between people and primates. Today, anthropologists recognize several physical and behavioral traits that tie humans to primates.”
So you’d think that if there were a trend towards the massive extinction of most primates around the world, even if that might not yet apply to human beings, this just might signal a warning for Earth’s entire ecosystem, including for our own survival. It would tell you that there are factors all around us making life increasingly untenable for a related species, and as much as well may like furry little monkeys, lemurs and bigger apes because they are cute, the ability to survive is a pretty direct and immediate indication of planetary degradation that, sooner or later, will knock on our door as well.
So let’s look at the state of life for our fellow primates. “A future without primates outside of humans seems unthinkable, but an extensive review of ape, monkey, tarsier, lemur and loris populations finds that 60 percent of all primates are now threatened with extinction, and about 75 percent are declining in numbers.
“The review, the most comprehensive of its kind to date and published in Science Advances, paints a dire future for our closest biological relatives. Their only hope hangs on global conservation becoming an immediate priority, the international team of authors says.
“‘It is possible that some primates will go extinct in our lifetimes if we don't increase our efforts dramatically,’ Russell Mittermeier, a primatologist who is the president of Conservation International, told Seeker from a Madagascar airport.
“Madagascar is one of just four countries—with Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo being the other three—that host two-thirds of all species of primates. Mittermeier, who is also the chair of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group, explained that ‘primates are largely tropical rainforest animals,’ and these countries have such habitat, although these once-lush landscapes are shrinking across the planet.
“A species of monkey might have already gone extinct during your lifetime: Miss Waldron's red colobus monkey. It was reportedly last seen in 1978… Paul Garber, who co-led the new study with Alejandro Estrada, said, ‘Several species of lemurs, monkeys and apes—such as the ring-tailed lemur, Udzunga red colobus monkey, Yunnan snub-nosed monkey, white-headed langur and Grauer's gorilla—are down to a population of a few thousand individuals.’ Garber added, ‘In the case of the Hainan gibbon, a species of ape in China, there are fewer than 30 animals left.’” Seeker.com, January 18th
Meanwhile, an overpopulated (person-wise) earth – 7.4 billion (expected to be 8.5 billion by 2030 and 9.6 billion by 2050) – which is experiencing the hottest average global temperatures in recorded history, is reeling from dramatic changes in our environment. The concomitant growing need for food and housing, the exploration for fossil fuels, lumber and minerals, has pressed humanity to dig, chop, blow-up, over-fish and deforest everywhere. What damage man has failed to inflict directly by tearing up the land and sea, he has done indirectly by the unrivaled emission of greenhouse gasses that have pushed temperatures upwards resulting in new deserts (floods elsewhere), driving millions of farmers from their sustenance and livelihoods.
These disenfranchised farmers, particularly in Syria and Iraq, have become the backbone of global terrorism against the richer countries in the West. They have also launched mega-waves of masses of migrants – with survival and not terrorism on their minds – moving from the Middle East to Europe and across Africa as farms wither and blow away in the dust. They define the current and expanding clashes of civilization that we see all around the Earth. They also define the right-wing backlash against immigrants (and non-Judeo-Christians) that has enveloped not only the United States but most of Europe.
So that extinction of non-human primates apparently is also happening to humans at many levels. Nature may need us to turn against each other, to foment more wars and murderous criminality, simply to cull the human herd. Famine, plague, pestilence and war… working in homicidal harmony to stop our unsustainable assault on the environment. It does seem to be all around us. And no matter how much humans can create mythology – that we are not responsible for these horrors, that the environment is a gift to humankind from God to exploit without bounds – nature is not bound to follow mythology. She seems to be content with the laws of physics. The hoax is on us.
I’m Peter Dekom, and that knocking on our environmental door sounds increasingly like an attempt to break that door down completely… and we really do not want to see what is waiting for us on the other side.