Remember Martha, the last of her kind, who died on this day a century ago. September 1st marks the extinction of the passenger pigeon, a species of North American bird with incomparable population numbers before they were completely eradicated by humans at the beginning of the 20th century.
3.7 billion to 0 in forty years.
And if you are wishing this wouldn’t happen again, hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself - remember that we are currently enduring the sixth major mass extinction event. While the other five in our earth’s history were naturally caused by everything from major meteoritic impacts, to extreme cooling or warming of the environment, and frequently changing atmosphere - the latest event, Number Six, is being completely attributed to humans. This is the Holocene Extinction.
In 2012 the IUCN reported that 30% of amphibians are at risk of extinction; as well as 21% of mammals, reptiles, and fish, 12% of birds, 68% of plants. We are looking to lose 30-50% of all species of life on our planet by the middle of the century.
This may feel like a hopeless inevitability, but the future is not set in stone. What we need for this cause is awareness. What we need is an investment of personal interest. We need voices, and students, and teachers. We need scientists, and law makers, and committees and new legislation for the environment. We need communicators. We need enthusiasts and what we really need is to ruin apathy. This is a shared planet, not just between ourselves but with every miraculous piece of life that has erupted on its unlikely surface in the last billion years. We owe it to that great improbability not to mess this up.
September 2014 marks 100 years since the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. It’s estimated that the population of these migrant birds fell from 3.7 billion individuals to 0 in about 40 years, largely due to human impact, habitat destruction, and a lack of regulation on hunting, trapping, and their use in competitive tourneys.
Remember Martha, the last of her kind, and what she represents as not just a hallmark of her species, but as a symbol for our fragile environments today.
I fell for the taste of your complexion.
I fell for you, I fell for you.
When my husband [Carl Sagan] died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me — it still sometimes happens — and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again.
Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous — not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance… That pure chance could be so generous and so kind… That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time… That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful.
The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.
See more Brendan Moore on iheartmyart.
Looks like someone hanging out with some red blood cells to me.