According to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a British scientific journal, there have been five major extinctions during the last 520 million years. Four of them have been linked to warmer tropical seas. I for one have read enough articles and connected enough dots to know that we are seeing the beginnings of such an event right now. Not some time in the future but right now as I write this article. Don't be fooled by scientists that say these events take hundreds or even thousands of years. They happen fast, usually within a few decades. Fast enough to effect you, me and especially our children.
During the last great warming, 11,500 years ago, the earth warmed 9-18 degrees F in less than a decade. If humans change the composition of the atmosphere significantly enough, the possibility exists that an abrupt climate shift with substantial social and ecological consequences could occur. - Alley & deMenocal, 1998
Last month a U.N. network of scientists reported that 30 percent of the Earth's species could disappear if temperatures rise 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 70 percent if they rise 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Compare that to the predictions by the Woods Hole Research Center that say...
"Surface temperature increases are projected to increase 1.8-6.3 °F in the next century, with scientists' best guess being about 3.5 °F. Scientific modeling suggests that the surface temperature will continue to increase beyond the year 2100 even if concentrations of greenhouse gases are stabilized by that time. However, if carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase at present rates, a quadrupling of pre-industrial CO2 concentration will occur not long after the year 2100. Projected temperature increases for such an atmospheric concentration are 15-20 °F above the present day mean annual global surface temperature."
and you may realize that we have a serious problem, not in 100 years but RIGHT NOW.
I read an article yesterday that stated "Butterflies now extinct in Alps", last week I read one that stated 40 to 60% of the bees in North America had vanished/died due to a mysterious disease called Colony Collapse Disorder. One third of the world's food crops depend on pollinators. Without pollinators to produce the fruits, nuts, and vegetables that fill your refrigerator, we will be hard pressed to feed the billions of people that populate our planet.
Add the fact that dwindling oil supplies will make mass farming, i.e. food production and transportation more expensive in the future and you have a recipe for disaster. Food prices are going to rise dramatically over the next few years. Of course this will, as usual, hit the poor the hardest but even the rich will feel the effect. Think about it... If your neighbor has nothing to eat and you do, he will expect you to share willingly or he will use force to take his share from you to feed his family.
I'm talking War.
Sure, the Bush regime has already started what future generations will call the "Energy Wars" but trust me when I say that Iraq is just the beginning. It's over oil which provides lots of conveniences and many things we have come to depend on as necessities. The "Resource Wars" will be much bigger. Deserts are expanding and sea levels are rising. Just wait until the resources at stake are land, water and food.
To sum up this article, the answer to my opening question "Extinction. Are we next?" is no.
Man will not become extinct any time soon. We are extremely adaptable and technology will help us survive even the toughest conditions. We will find ways to pollinate our crops, we will flee the rising seas by moving to higher ground, we will use technology to fight the ever increasing wildfires and disease caused by higher temperatures and many of us will even survive the fight for our remaining resources. After all that, only a fraction of the current population will be left.
Maybe the suffering to come will teach those that survive a lesson they will heed...
Don't pee in the pond you live in!