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For the mathematically inclined

Posted: July 4th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

This is shamelessly ripped from a recent Horizon episode that was future themed. They touch on global warming and the ongoing 6th mass extinction; I thought I’d add some fun maths questions for viewers:

  • If 81% of freshwater verterbrates have become extinct since 1970, how long will it take the remaining 19% to die, and for Earth’s rivers and estuaries to become completely lifeless?
  • If between 1970 to 2012, a 58 per cent overall decline in vertebrate populations occured, how long will it take before Earth has no vertebrate life remaining?
  • If the Great Dying (the Earth’s third mass extinction) killed 95% of life in 2,000,000 years, and the current mass extinction has killed 38% of life during the past 47 years, how much faster is this mass extinction proceeding than the previous worst extinction in the Earth’s 4.5 billion year history?

Answers below the video.

  • Deadline for the rivers; 2028.
  • Deadline for the vertebrates; 2047.
  • Great Dying; 0.0000475% annual extinction rate. Today, 0.8085% annual extinction rate. Hence animals are becoming extinct at a rate approximately 20,000 times faster than the worst previous mass extinction.

All figures are taken from the Living Planet Report, published by the World Wildlife Fund.

I post this not to depress people, but to attempt to draw attention to the extremity of the situation that we are in. Given that the status quo, life as we know it in the “developed” world, has led to the death of around two thirds of everything alive since I was born, it doesn’t make sense to me to continue to support and work within that status quo. To all intents and purposes, it appears to worship death; the best description I’ve heard of our economic system is “the fastest way we’ve yet discovered to turn our planet into a trash heap”. So I guess my personal take on learning about the lateness of the day has been to take to heart the adage, “Action is the antidote to despair” and to try to explore alternatives to the centralised, authoritarian, male-dominated structures. A writer who puts it much better than I:

“What is known is that Leviathan, the great artifice, single and world-embracing for the first time in His-story, is decomposing. From the day when battery-run voices began broadcasting old speeches to battery-run listeners, the beast has been talking to itself. Having swallowed everyone and everything outside itself, the beast becomes its own sole frame of reference. It entertains itself, exploits itself and wars on itself. It has reached the end of its Progress, for there is nothing left for it to progress against except itself. Being above all else a war engine, the beast is most likely to perish once and for all in a cataclysmic suicidal war, in which case Ahriman would permanently extinguish the light of Ahura Mazda. People waste their lives when they plead with Ahriman to desist from extinguishing the light, for such a deed would be Ahriman’s final triumph over Ahura Mazda, and the pleaders might learn too late that they are the ones who put the idea into the monster’s head. Leviathan is turning into Narcissus, admiring its own synthetic image in its own synthetic pond, enraptured by its spectacle of itself. It is a good time for people to let go of its sanity, its masks and armors, and go mad, for they are already being ejected from its pretty polis.”

So let go of your sanity, my friends, because being well-adjusted to this society is an act of profound despair, and come by Grow Heathrow for a cup of tea (we can chat about humanure and oyster mushrooms, as that’s the latest iteration of our “shit into soil in 3 months” ongoing experiments). Particularly if Lewdown do actually try to evict us soon!

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