Originally published December 17 2007
Silent Extinction: Complacency as a Global Epidemic
by Al G Smith
(NaturalNews) Two stories announced across the various news media this week may signal the fact that the "end of the world" - at least as we know it - has come leaps and bounds closer. The first item begs the question: What have the Nendo Tube Nosed Fruit Bat, the Pink Headed Duck, the Hula Painted Frog, the Guam Flying Fox, and the Yangzte River Dolphin all got in common? Naturally you knew, they are some of almost eighty known species to have become extinct in the last 100 years.
The sad losses are a result, some say, of what might be viewed merely as a typical evolutionary process. What is this natural occurrence? Mass extinction. Something that occurs, scientists say, whenever the global temperature increases for a prolonged period of time; that is to say 'global warming'. Such an event could lead to around half of all known species ceasing to exist over the next few hundred years!
This declaration seemed to cause little more than a 24-hour ripple in the radio waves. Such momentous news was soon displaced in the butterfly-like attention of the general public by stories of so-called 'Wags' (wives and girlfriends of footballers) and the current shenanigans on 'The X-factor' (a TV show that panders to the egocentricity of a few modestly talented, at best, wannabe pop-stars).
It might be thought that the possibility of fifty percent of the world's species disappearing within centuries due to a catastrophic evolutionary event called 'mass extinction' would attract more attention. It seems that when a period of global warming takes place, even an increase of a few degrees will cause many species to die off. Indications are that just such a warming is occurring at an unprecedented rate.
Some experts suggest that global temperatures have started to rise within the last century at previously unheralded rates, arguably, directly as a result of Mankind's machinations. Nevertheless the news seemed barely enough to do more than cause a few 'couch potatoes' to reach for the TV remote - not to save energy by switching-off, but merely to change channel.
Apparently these devastating events are known to have occurred before, thanks to studies of prehistoric geological samples and data. It would seem that Man's uncanny knack of screwing-with-nature means that it is certain we will have a major hand in speeding the next such event to its morbid conclusion.
Why so little reaction to this forecast of impending doom for so many species that, just to be clear, means they will be dead and gone forever? Perhaps it is because it will likely be evident well beyond the lifetime of the globe's current 'human incumbents'. Who, after all, can be asked to be concerned about the future of life on Earth when there are pop-stars to vote for, and footballers to idolize in the here-and-now? Let our great-great-great Grandchildren fend for themselves, our lack of concern seems to intimate.
There was also a second momentous news item, which barely seemed to receive its fifteen minutes of fame, this week. This press release was particularly significant in that, whereas mass-extinction might only wipe out half the world's species, this development could actually signal the death knell for all that remain! Sounds over-dramatic? Let's consider the news.
The TV screens and radio speakers were once again briefly a-buzz with news from an exemplary expert in self-promotion, the so-called "maverick" scientist, Dr. J Craig Venter. Frustrated, no doubt, but undaunted by having failed (so far) to patent every gene in the human genome, Venter has avidly been pursuing his latest objective of actually becoming God.
The 'good' Doctor glibly dismissed qualms expressed by mass-media science reporters about his recent pursuit, the 'creation of life,' in his labs at the J Craig Venter Institute. He and a team of Nobel prize-winning researchers are continuing to progress the project of creating a synthetic life form christened "Mycoplasma laboratorium", and nicknamed "Synthia", for which Venter has already applied for universal patents.
Venter slickly spells out the potential benefits for Mankind that managing to create synthetic organisms might provide. Foremost amongst the theoretical advantages of this technology: the power to create new 'greener' ethanol and hydrogen fuel sources.
The fact that there must ultimately be a very real possibility of unnatural genes 'escaping' from the laboratory environment, which could open a Pandora's Box of potentially disastrous possibilities, seems to be paid little heed by Venter in his own glowing testimonial of his 'Divine' ambitions.
Venter was questioned about the consequences of the exploitation of 'Synthia' for ill-begotten purposes, such as the creation of bacterial bio-weapons. His glib reply seemed to be that the same technology would allow the development of cures and vaccines for anything that could be developed. There must be some folks, in a time when the whole foundation of the scientific validity of vaccine programs is being questioned, that feel less than happy with such a response.
The ETC Group, a Canadian campaigning organization, has expressed concerns over the development of such synthetic-genetic technology. Its spokesperson, Jim Thomas, noted that whilst "Synthia" may be "less cuddly" than Dolly the cloned sheep, the effort to create patents in an emerging and potentially highly dangerous technology is of great concern.
Given Venter's apparent desire to become the 'new' Creator, it is amusing to note that since his last major moment in the media spot light he has already started sporting a white beard. No doubt we should be on the look out for him attempting to erect a magnificent throne amidst the cumulus nimbi any day soon!
About the authorAl G Smith MSc BSc - Has been working and teaching in the food related sector for over 30 years and is currently a website publisher (http://www.gonaturalandorganic.com) and Independent Representative for the World's first extensive range of Certified Organic skin care and cosmetics (http://www.saferalternative.com).
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