Amor Fati: The Sixth Extinction
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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.
In the story Amor Fati: The Sixth Extinction.
Also by Paul Lavallee
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