The present Climate Catastrophe looks likely to become Mass Extinction Event Number 7 here on our local planet- third rock from the sun (the blue one, you can’t miss it) The first M.E.E. we have crafted all on our own, using nothing but our gigantic intelligence. Planet earth is currently enjoying the Holocene Era. Sentient beings such as ourselves, (some less sentient than others, obviously) have been reaping the benefits of this era of fecundity for some 65 million years,(definitely the best era so far) Unfortunately this glorious era seems to be coming to an abrupt end. The boffins are telling us that our beloved planet is entering the unchartered waters of the Anthropocene Era. Said boffins have predicted this era will be short and nasty. It will soon be replaced by The Catastrophocene Era, which needs no explanation, the name says it all. It will be a wild ride for the few hardy species that survive the Anthropocene: Rats, pigeons, cockroaches and the odd stray homo-sapien.
The Catastrophoscene will last until the next major cataclysmic event. Hopefully by then the diversity of life on earth will have recovered to such an extent that a few species will survive that inevitable shock. They will in turn mutate and diversify and replenish the cup of life…and so it goes. As the chart below shows us, relatively stable eras on planet earth are intermittently interrupted by sudden mass extinction events on a fairly regular basis, roughly every 60 – 100 million years, give or take a few eons. The earth needs at least 50 million years after a mass extinction event for life to recover its diversity to the point it was before the cataclysm. The last event was 65 million years ago. The world has recovered remarkably well in that brief interlude. It has matched the number of species present in the previous era, and surpassed it in leaps and bounds, adding an astonishing plethora of weird and wonderful creatures to the mix, including us. Misanthropes (and they are thick on the ground these days) might wistfully wish that a mass extinction event had happened just before humans turned up. But that did not happen, did it? We did turn up…in great numbers, and made our presence felt. Every species on earth is now affected by our all pervading presence, but despite the relentless depredations of our fellow homo-sapiens, the present epoch is still the most diverse array of life that the earth has ever known. The era of abundance. It seems a shame to go and ruin it all in one fell swoop, just when things were looking good. But not only is it shameful beyond measure to insert an unnatural extinction event into the natural cycle, it is extremely dangerous. By proceeding with this folly, we create the very real risk of extinguishing all life on earth, every single species, bar none. (much like popping a second bullet in the revolver whilst playing Russian roulette)
After 65 million years we are overdue for a natural mass extinction event anyway. If that event happens to occur just after the human induced mass extinction event that we are working on at the moment, that would be a double whammy! The old one-two, knock-out blow. Down for the count.
That’s one ‘big shame job,’ to have orchestrated the demise of 500 million years of glorious life on earth. Hopefully the few survivors, Jeff Besos, Richard Branson, Bill Gates and their concubines, having migrated to Mars by this time, will feel some remorse for what they have engineered.
Catastrophocene Era – 3ya – ?
Anthropocene extinction event -300 ya– 3ya
Holocene era – 65 mya – 300ya
Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event – 65 mya ago
Triassic–Jurassic extinction event -199 mya – 214 mya
Permian–Triassic extinction event – 251 mya
Late Devonian extinction – 364 mya
Ordovician–Silurian extinction events `- 439 mya
Today on planet Earth, our atmosphere is holding onto over 400 parts per million of CO2 or its equivalent. The last time the atmosphere was carrying so much co2 was 55 million years ago, some 10 million years after the massive extinction event that wiped out those big cuddly dinosaurs. The super-saturation of co2 inexorably led to a rise in global temperature to a scorching 4 – 8o above what it is today.
Ironically enough, that hot-house earth led to an explosion in green plants, mainly trees. When all that green stuff died it created massive layers of coal, gas and oil, that has been sitting there undisturbed waiting patiently for some petrol head to find it and burn it.
Obviously, all those fossil fuels must be kept in the ground for another emergency.
When the next oversize meteorite slams in to the earth, as they do from time to time, it is likely to bring on a sudden ice age. Then we will need to burn our fossil fuel reserve, that we have guarded so preciously, just in case of such an eventuality, in order to keep us snug and warm. It’s a no brainer!
Julian Cribb has written a most illuminating piece,
Here comes the catastrophocene…
Julian is an Australian science author. His latest books on the human future are “Surviving the 21st Century” and “Food or War”
I highly recommend you read all his books from cover to cover, taking copious notes as you go. Mr. Cribb is one of the few people in the world who know what the fuck is going on.
For light entertainment you could also read my essay,
Then any of the plethora of other articles I have written on the topic over the last 30 years.