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    On Dioramas and the Extinction of Earthlings

    Even baby owls know not to shit in their own nests.  Humans have shit all over this planet, we’re less intelligent than baby owls.

                                                                              -Gerry Spence, From Slavery to Freedom: The Rebirth of Tyranny in America


    Homo-sapiens (or, if you prefer, homo-imbÄ“cillus) are the most efficeint and successful of all invasive species. 

                                                                                                                                      -Walter Lloyd Waterson, The Rights of Nature


           Posted below is a slideshow of the dioramas at the California Academy of the Sciences in San Francisco.  As habitat destruction, global temperature averages, pollution, consumption, human population, and urban sprawl increases across the planet, civilizations are closing-in on the natural world, dismembering its ecosystems, gorging upon its resources, and stamping-out its animal inhabitants.  Unless a greater is effort is made to protect Earth’s wild places and the creatures that dwell therein, the animals endangered today will be extinct tomorrow.  While some of the more cherished and iconic creatures may be preserved through zoological breeding programs or cloned into existence, it’s likely that many of the currently endangered species will be driven to extinction in the wild and that our grandchildren will observe them only in cages, in natural history films, as fossils, or as taxidermy. 

             Most animal species on Earth have origins in a past much deeper than our own, yet modern humans often consider the existence of these other, more ancient creatures as insignificant and constituting a lesser evolved order as we slaughter them wholesale and wipe-out their habitats for human purposes, thus ending their lengthy track-record and eliminating their presence of life on Earth.  Humans, in our current manifestation as homo-sapiens (Latin: “wise man”) have been around for roughly 200,000 years, but many reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds that are now going extinct emerged and thrived on Earth thousands of centuries before we did.  Amphibians (which comprise a group of animals that has the highest rate of endangerment), for instance, first appeared on the planet 370 million years ago, eons before primates emerged as a distant branch on the evolutionary tree. 

    According to the Center for Biological Diversity:

            We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century.

           Habitat destruction and climate change are the two main factors driving species extinction, and while people can argue about man’s climatic influence until the cows swim home, the evidence implicating us in the drastic disfiguration and destruction of Earth’s habitat is indisputable.  By ending the long run of existence for myriad species that have been on Earth since the age of the dinosaurs, humans are effectively hacking down their own biological family tree, for not only do many of these dying species share similar DNA to humans, but it is from out their lineage that we have evolved; they and their kin are in fact our distant relatives.  In destroying forests, polluting the air and the seas, and killing animals en masse, humans are also biting the hand that feeds them, for the creatures that are being sacrificed for the sake of human “progress” are the very ones that we have depended on for our ascendancy and that we rely on for food, shelter, and medicine.  Indeed, many modern medicines are derived from plant and animal species that reside in the seas or in tropical forests, and it is sometimes said that, through deforestation, humans may have already destroyed the cure for cancer without even knowing it. 

            The final irony is this:  that in all our genius and technological prowess which has allowed us to dominate the natural world, we are very likely creating of this world an environment so inhospitable that our highly evolved and intelligent species will no longer be able to flourish upon it.   We are going to kill ourselves because we are so smart and so stupid at the same time.  That we have been given the opportunity to live on Earth is miracle superimposed upon another miracle.  That humans would violently destroy such a precious and marvelous gift, while simultaneously bringing down a galaxy of creatures that we share this planet with is the greatest tragedy in the theater of life on Earth, and it is due time that we change our course.    



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