Swamp Rabbit was trying to choose the Halloween week’s scariest story. It was Donald Trump threatening to rescind the 14th Amendment, he said. Or it was Trump’s statements blaming the media for the pipe bomb mailings and the slaughter of 11 Jews in Pittsburgh.
I shook my head and showed him a news story that was even more fear-inducing than the pre-election behavior of Agent Orange and his followers:
Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation.
The new estimate of the massacre of wildlife is made in a major report produced by [the World Wildlife Federation] and involving 59 scientists from across the globe. It finds that the vast and growing consumption of food and resources by the global population is destroying the web of life, billions of years in the making, upon which human society ultimately depends for clean air, water and everything else.
“That ain’t news,” the rabbit said. “Everybody knows about over-fishing, and that most land animals are gonna get wiped out to make room for soybean fields to feed all them chickens and cattle that humans eat.”
But that’s crazy, I told him. Too many extinctions would upset the balance of nature forever. We’d be looking at a drastic decrease in the number of people in the world, especially after you figure in global warming.
He sipped from a pint bottle of bourbon. “The world can afford to lose a few billion peeps. Ain’t no other way to sustain all them ecosystems and get the climate under control.”
I glared at him. “You’ve got some hard bark on you, rabbit. You’re talking about human beings, not termites.”
“Do the math,” he said, shrugging. “Think about all them pandemics waiting to happen. And the lack of fresh water.”
I showed him a story about how the Trump gang wants to freeze fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks because it’s already too late to keep the world from warming by seven degrees by century’s end.
“You’re a nihilist, just like Trump,” I said.
“Au contraire,” he replied. “I’m just a jaded old swamp rabbit. He’s president of the United States.”
Footnote: The book to read is The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. Be careful, it might drive you to drink.
I’ve heard a lot about The Sixth Extinction but it does sound terrifying. Like all of the scary stories of the week that you mention. Ugh.
Kolbert pointed out that Darwin was wrong, extinction of a species doesn’t always take a long time. In the modern world, humans often play a key role in speeding up the process. The subtitle of her book is “An Unnatural History.”
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