Monday, July 20, 2015

We have now entered an extinction age ... wait? What??!?!?

On 20th June 2015 BBC News carried the following headline: Earth 'entering new extinction phase' - US study

Now, I try to avoid the news as best I can but fail miserably and often end up getting depressed about the state of the world. This headline, in particular though, made me even moreso. Actually, it wasn't the headline itself, or the content contained within the article that make me sad – it's the reaction to it.

Or rather, the lack of reaction.

You'd think when told our entire species is on the brink of extinction, you'd think there would be a sudden rush to do something about it. Almost, like everyone would stop working in the factories and get out in the streets and y'know, take action.


That is what the reaction should be. But it wasn't. A collective 'tut-tut' was repeated around the world and then everyone went back to sipping their lattes and finding out how big Kim Kardashian's backside had become.

Several weeks after this headline, nothing much has changed. We are going about our daily lives as normal. The news rolls on: a crisis in Greece continues, an American comedian faces sexual assault accusations and a probe in deep space is capturing images of the solar system's most distant planet.

No-one seems to have really have grasped how serious this is, but I think I can have a guess at why.

The problem is that this threat we are facing is not immediate. It is gradual. The whole climate change thing is. It's been brewing for decades, slowly but surely – imperceptibly so.

If NASA suddenly spotted an asteroid hurtling toward us at fifteen miles a second, we'd do all we could to intercept it and stop it careering into our precious home, destroying everything we've worked for over the last two thousand years. That kind of immediate threat invokes an immediate response.

But when you are talking about an encroaching threat that will occur over the next century or so, no-one seems bothered. This – our inability to see the long-term and take the necessary action – has been and always be our downfall.

So, make the most of it while you can. Savour that cup of coffee, squeeze your loved ones that little bit tighter, bask in the warm breeze of a summer's day .... because we may not be able to enjoy such things for much longer.

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