We are well on the road to mass extinction

During the last 540+ million years of our Earth’s existence, there have been five well-known mass extinctions . The most devastating extinction occurred at the end of the Permian period, about 250 million years ago, when more than 90 percent of marine life and more than 70 percent of land animals became extinct.

More recently, at the end of the Cretaceous period, about 60 million years ago, another mass extinction, caused in part by the impact of Earth with a giant meteorite, resulted in the demise of the dinosaurs, in addition to a large number of other species.

These five mass extinctions were caused primarily by excessive volcanic activity polluting our atmosphere.

Today, we are facing a sixth mass extinction that is the result of human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels to produce the energy driving the economies of the Earth’s developed countries, such as the U.S., China, Russia and India. The product of this fossil fuel consumption may be measured by the 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide entering our atmosphere every year, resulting in rapid global warming.

The coming disaster will be accelerated as the less-developed countries of the Earth begin to burn fossil fuels to the same extent that developed countries have been doing for the last century.

Unfortunately, we have only recently become aware of this future catastrophe, even though we have already passed the point of no return to the climate normality prior to the industrial revolution. Despite the undeniable findings of climate scientists, there still continues to be a large body of climate change deniers who are in strong opposition to any attempt at government intervention.

However, within the last few years, there has appeared a growing group of mostly young people who are striving at least to slow down global warming. As a rapidly aging octogenarian, they have my full support and best wishes.

Augustus S. Cotera Jr.


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