Gallery D

Time Is Running Out

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The Sixth Mass Extinction Looms

By James Donahue

I think I first began to be aware that something was going wrong with the environment when I met a university science professor and researcher who kept a cottage at Port Sanilac, Michigan, in the late 1970s. This man talked about his concern about the growing acidity found in rain. 

He said it was a sign of an unbalanced atmosphere caused by a buildup of carbon emissions. He was warning even then that something needed to be done to stop what was happening before it led to serious trouble like global warming and all the problems that it would cause.

I wrote a story about this man’s warnings for my newspaper. While I respected his knowledge, I had a problem in those days getting too alarmed by what he was telling me.

Since then, acid rain has become the least of our worries.

We are watching birds fall dead from the sky, and fish floating dead along world shorelines. Entire species of animals, insects, birds and fish are going extinct every year. Some of the severely threatened creatures are key indicator species like honey bees, which are vital for farm crops. It is believed that contemporary farm fields drenched in Monsanto’s herbicide glyphosate, is a primary killer of both birds and bees.

Monsanto appears to have too much political and legal muscle to be stopped, so the killing continues. And humans have little choice but to buy glyphosate laced foods at the local grocery stores. The key ingredients are branded as genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Last month the National Organic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a State of the Climate report containing data compiled by 425 scientists in 57 countries. Thomas Karl, HOAA director, warned that “the climate is changing more rapidly in today’s world than at any time in modern civilization.” 
Highlighted in the report were the following:

--Greenhouse gases are still climbing. Our atmosphere is saturated with more and more carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide now than ever before. It is trapping more heat from the sun on the Earth’s surface, and consequently having a strange effect on everything we once considered “normal.”

--The surface of the Earth is heating. Every year is setting new records for warm weather. Consequently weather patterns are changing. Storms are more intense, some areas are experiencing extreme heat and drought, forest fires are raging, farm crops are drying up, and fresh water is becoming a critical commodity.

--The Oceans are heating. This is affecting the natural flow of ocean currents and appears to be affecting the Jetstream, which in turn is having a powerful impact on world weather patterns.

--The ice at the North and South Poles is melting, causing the sea levels to rise. Inhabited islands are threatened as are coastal cities all over the world. As the permafrost in northern Alaska, Canada and Russia melts, the animals and plants caught up in an ancient event that froze them in their tracks are rotting, causing great clouds of methane to rise into the atmosphere. Strange holes have been found in the ground in Siberia, suggesting possible explosions of methane.

--Storms are growing in severity. Rainfalls are heavy, sometimes dropping up to six inches of rain in a single storm which is causing flooding. Cyclones and Hurricanes are growing in power, intense storms over the land are bringing tornadoes, severe strait-line winds and damaging hail, all of which are damaging buildings, vehicles and crops.

--Agricultural areas that depend on seasonal rainfall are now experiencing extensive drought. Much of the Southwest United States is in a severe drought condition. Water reservoirs, rivers and lakes are drying up. 

--A new phenomenon now called the "polar vortex" is slamming the central and northeast part of the United States. Severe cold air from the arctic north is making its way deep into the heart of the country, bringing heavy snows and storms in the winter and keeping the summer chilled. Will they continue?

--The Great Lakes were completely frozen over last winter. Birds that depend upon feeding on sea creatures perished. So did many deer, elk, bear and wolves living in the forests around the lakes.
It is obvious of these conditions continue to worsen, a lot of animals and humans are going to perish. The world is running out of food and water, and farmers are soon going to be unable to meet demand.