What will humanity’s lasting impact on the planet be?
In earnest, probably nothing. The dinosaurs roamed the Earth for millions of years, and despite the fact that we use their discarded carcasses as the foundation for literally every aspect of modernity, we don’t particularly hold grudges against them for dying in spots that happen to now be inhabited by radical fundamentalists.
Although we really should…
So when people are permanently wiped from the face of this planet, and a new phylum other than chordate comes to dominate the space, I don’t think they will be particularly concerned with what we did in our short time here.
Although they may wonder where all the fish are. Because there won’t be any fish. Because we’re gonna kill ’em all pretty soon. From The Washington Post:
Continued warming of the Earth’s oceans over the next century could trigger disruptions to marine life on a scale not seen in the last 3 million years, scientists warn in a study released Monday.
The changes could include extinctions of some of the ocean’s keystone species as well as a widespread influx of “invasive” animals and plants that migrate to new territory because of changing environmental conditions, the report says.
Yea that sounds bad enough, but that’s not even close to the worst part of it, especially if the more drastic predictions for our changing climate come to fruition.
The worst is that all the fish may be killed.
Extrapolating from [fossil] records, the researchers predicted that even moderate climate change will cause significant disruptions, with local extinctions and species migrations occurring three times more frequently than today.
More severe warming will have a major impact on marine life, with significant disruptions occurring across 50 to 70 percent of the world’s oceans, the authors concluded.
That’s pretty much all the fish. Our love of cars is going to kill all the fish.
I, for one, don’t think it’s *all* that bad we are fucking up the planet. I think the Earth itself is a self-correcting organism that will eventually force our demise and pave the way for a species that is much less destructive. No different than you magically ridding yourself of a cold. You don’t think a cold has a right to continue fucking up your body. Why should humans have that right to the planet?
But other people want humans to continue on on this Earth, and all this fish death will not be helpful.
The impacts cannot fail to affect life on land, given the ocean’s role in supporting human populations, said co-author Richard Kirby, a plankton expert at Britain’s University of Plymouth.
“When the temperature of the environment changes, animals and plants change in abundance locally or may move to new locations if the habitat is suitable,” Kirby said. “These movements ultimately affect the food web and ecology, and if they are rapid, the food web may become uncoupled.”
No matter where you stand on the matter, it’s going to be a fun century! Well, except for the fish.