Amor Fati: The Sixth Extinction

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© Paul Lavallee
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Photo Info
UploadedMarch 26, 2008
TakenMarch 26, 2008
MakeNikon Corporation
ModelNIKON D40
Exposure1/30 sec at f/5
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length38 mm
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Photo license: © All rights reserved


No moa, no moa
In old Ao-tea-roa.
Can't get 'em.
They've et 'em;
They've gone and there aint no moa!

One has an easier time forgiving our ancestors who decimated the megafauna and other smaller species that did not have the opportunity to co-evolve with humans. The moa were large flightless birds from New Zealand (Aotearoa). The Māori people wiped them out in less than one hundred years upon settling the island country. No doubt the moa were an easy meal for the Māori. While it was shortsighted to eliminate allof them, the Māori did not have a written language or history to guide them to what this extinction would mean. Whenever our ancestors settled new lands, teeming with animals that had never seen a human, they hunted the easiest, best meals into extinction. It is our adaptive hunting skill that has made us a successful species.

What is our excuse in the 20th and 21st centuries? We have the benefit of a written history and a science that can predict the fate of our endangered species. We have domesticated livestock, fisheries, and crops that provide us with our “easy meals”. Why do we continue to decimate the earth’s species through habitat destruction, global warming, and pollution?

Amphibians are particularly vulnerable to our callous actions. Since they breathe and absorb water through their skin, they have limited defenses against our pollution. Whole populations of frogs are dying off. Why we should care? In the case of the moa, not only was an important food resource of the Māori eliminated, but their extinction in turn caused the extinction of the moa’s large predator, Haast's Eagle. Frogs control mosquitoes that spread malaria and other diseases. Each species occupy a niche in its ecosystem. Removing species cause the whole system to collapse.

In the history of life on Earth, there have been five major extinctions, the most famous being of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Many scientists have called our era the sixth extinction - human created extinction. We could conceivably wipe out half of all species within the next 100 years. My question to the reader is, armed with this knowledge what shall we do about it? Shall we “love our fate”, or do we dare change it?

For further reading I suggest Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

Photographed here is Nicole’s pet frog Cleo. Fortunately, he lives in a tank that shields him from our society’s habitat destruction, global warming, and pollution. Separated from our mismanagement of the environment, he has matured from a “grow-a-frog” to the ripe old age of 19 years!

Manually focused, hand-held Nikon D40 with Nikon 18-55mm II lens @ 38mm f/5.0 ISO 800. Tungsten white balance, no digital manipulation.

17 responses

  • Nicole Gesmondi

    Nicole Gesmondi said (25 Mar 2008):

    This is Cleo's first photograph not from a cell phone! Lovely composition! He's looking right at you! I think frogs is your calling! haha

  • Audrey Kanekoa-Madrid

    Audrey Kanekoa-Madrid (Deleted) gave props (25 Mar 2008):

    WOnderful story too!

  • Rachel Mckinnie

    Rachel Mckinnie gave props (25 Mar 2008):

    19 human years??? Woah. That's a long time for a pet! I love the story Paul. It's unbelieve how many of earth's inhabitants "we" aren't looking out for.

  • Alexis - Now on Flickr

    Alexis - Now on Flickr gave props (26 Mar 2008):

    Great image, great story, great entry. So well done Paul

  • Penny Nannini

    Penny Nannini   gave props (26 Mar 2008):

    Very on point, hope it gets published and read by many!

  • maria tizon

    maria tizon (Deleted) gave props (26 Mar 2008):

    nice work paul! image and story are so well done.

  • Chlo Chlo

    Chlo Chlo gave props (26 Mar 2008):

    brilliant ....amazing...♥

  • Tyron Cruz

    Tyron Cruz gave props (26 Mar 2008):

    Well written. This is nice! :)

  • Andrea Tipple

    Andrea Tipple (Deleted) gave props (27 Mar 2008):

    19 years old??? WOW! I'm a fan of cleo :) Great story and pic!

  • Sol Hess

    Sol Hess gave props (27 Mar 2008):

    Love this entry, Paul! Great story. An d I absolutely love this shot of Cleo!!! Really feel his personality through that glass! Cleo rocks!!!!

  • melanie scott

    melanie scott gave props (27 Mar 2008):

    a very well researched and well written essay paul! good job!

  • Kiwi ana

    Kiwi ana (Deleted) gave props (28 Mar 2008):

    Kia Ora from Kiwi Karen! Paul, you are so right. It' s so sad Moa have been eaten into extinction. Moa were 8 - 10 feet tall, imagine how big those Haast's Eagles were? That would have been spectacular! Hei te mihi ki te Ao o Aotearoa me to Ao nui e. Na te tangata te mea nui, ki a Kia tupato me nge mea katoa. Ko te Ao he taonga ke.// Here is a message to New Zealand and the world at large. Man has a great meaning: to be careful of all things. The world is a treasure.

  • Nelson Campbell

    Nelson Campbell (Deleted) gave props (30 Mar 2008):

    Paul, excellent entry all around -

  • Emma Brahas

    Emma Brahas said (31 Mar 2008):

    great! yeah!

  • Mandolin Davis

    Mandolin Davis gave props (8 Apr 2008):

    well done indeed. and informative.

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (18 Apr 2008):

    Dude, froggy looks cool...and I'm a big fan of Jared Diamond's writing.

  • Alexis - Now on Flickr

    Alexis - Now on Flickr gave props (21 Aug 2010):

    Great image, and such an important message

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