Posted by: blogone | August 9, 2007

So long and thanks for all the fish

BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6935343.stm

One planet. One experiment”,
Edward O. Wilson, The diversity
of life.

A freshwater dolphin found only in China is now “likely to be extinct”, a team of scientists has concluded.

The researchers failed to spot any Yangtze river dolphins, also known as baijis, during an extensive six-week survey of the mammals’ habitat.

I’ve just finished listening to ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’, by Bill Bryson, and he closes out the book, last four minutes or so and says the following (not verbatim):

If you were to design an organism to look after life in our lonely cosmos, to monitor where it is going and to keep a record of where it has been; you wouldn’t choose human beings for the job. Here’s the salient point, we have been chosen, wheather by fate or providence or whatever you want to call it. We may be the best there is. We are the best there is; we may be all there is. It’s an unnerving thought that we may be the universe’s supreme achievement and its worst nightmare; simultaneously. Because we are so careless at looking after things when they are alive and after they have died off permanently that we have no idea, none, about the amount of things that have died off or will soon die off and what part, if any, we have played in the process.

The fact is we don’t know, we don’t have any idea. We do know we only have one planet and there is only one species of being capable of making a
difference.
We got to this position is a stunningly fast time. Behaviorally modern human beings have occupied this planet for only 0.0001% of the earth’s history.

It has taken a great deal of luck to get here, not just humans, but every living thing. To continue we’ll need more than just luck.

 

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