Tuesday, June 28, 2011

extinction distinction

let's pretend.

let's pretend your house is on fire, and there are pets and children inside.

that's some serious shit, right? i mean, this is not the time to debate the size of the fire and who started it and what to do next.

you drop what you're doing, wade in, save the kids and the animals, and put out the damn fire. right?

are there other options i'm not aware of? is there another decision tree that makes more sense? if there is, now is a real good time to share it.

because the house is on fire, and wouldn't you know it? we're all inside.

it seems that climate change, pollution, and over-predation by humans is about to trigger an "unprecedented mass extinction event" in our oceans.

according to a report by people who don't find science to be too "sciency," countless marine species are disappearing at a much faster rate than the watered-down, politicized predictions previously estimated.

Overfishing, pollution, run-off of fertilisers from farming and the acidification of the seas caused by increasing carbon dioxide emissions were combining to put marine creatures in extreme danger, according to the report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, prepared at the first international workshop to consider all of the cumulative stresses affecting the oceans at Oxford.

The international panel of marine experts said there was a "high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history."

well. that's kind of alarming, isn't it? because if you follow the mass extinction on up the food chain, where do you suppose it leads? to the children and animals in the burning house, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor and the abstractified analogy.

so, where is the alarm? where is the immediate response to this imminent disaster?

why, silly, it's nowhere, of course! rather than save anyone, let alone put out the fire, we're arguing about the existence of fire, and whether it has any negative side effects if, in fact, it were determined to exist. this is thanks to a huge, years-long campaign of disinformation by the lovely folks who started the fire, and profit greatly from the flames. hi exxon! hi bp! hi u.s. energy policy!

this campaign is helped along by politicians whose lips are so fastened to the ass of energy-producing corporations that helping the people in the house will never come to a vote, let alone actually happen. hi rick santorum, gop presidential hopeful!

never mind the volumes of peer-reviewed research documenting the effects of pouring billions of tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. or the fact that sea levels are rising faster than at any time in more than 2100 years.

nonono. none of those studies were sponsored by big oil, so therefore they must be discounted as the work of crazy environmentalists who only want to...only want to...wait, what is it the crazy environmentalists want?

oh yeah, they want to put out the fire. rescue the living creatures. maybe prevent future fires.

real subversive stuff like that.

but when there's lots of money involved, you get a certain sort of people saying, "environmentalists are evil and crazy and un-american! they want to take away your 56-inch TVs and your football games and your gas-gargling SUVs! don't mind the screams coming from that house...they'll stop real soon."

similarly, never mind the millions of dying fish washing up on shores all over the world. don't worry about the thousands of dead birds falling out of the skies. ignore the texas-size island o'trash meandering about the pacific ocean.

but the politicians and low-information voters flopping all over themselves denying the existence of fire and other sciency stuff? take their word for it. because if it ain't in their version of the bible or the constitution, then shirley it doesn't exist.


meanwhile, and almost certainly coincidentally...

Two unusual dolphins that have never been seen in the state have been spotted cruising in waters near Olympia.

The long-beaked common dolphins were spotted off Boston Harbor, near Olympia, said Annie Douglas, a biologist with the Cascadia Research Collective in Olympia, a marine-mammal research group.

Douglas doesn't know what prompted the dolphins to cruise so far from home. She said it might have to do with water temperature or storms. "It's one of those things that's hard to say right now," she said.

"These are animals who aren't normally here and their chances aren't very good," she said.

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