What is Extinction? What is a Mass Extinction Event?

Play this music as you explore this page, and prepare to have your heart broken. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwZZf5oB4l4  It's a song called "Beautiful Creatures"by Bruce Cockburn from his album Life Short Call Now  (True North/Rounder Records).  The music is illustrated by photographs and the wildlife art of Peter Gullerud (© 2009 Peter Gullerud).

"Beautiful Creatures" lyrics:

There's a knot in my gut
As I gaze out today
On the planes of the city
All polychrome grey
When the skin is peeled off it
What is there to say?
The beautiful creatures are going away

Like a dam on a river
My conscience is pressed
By the weight of hard feelings
Piled up in my breast
The callous and vicious things
Humans display
The beautiful creatures are going away

Why? Why?

From the stones of the fortress
To the shapes in the air
To the ache in the spirit
We label despair
We create what destroys,
Bind ourselves to betray
The beautiful creatures are going away

Editor's Note: We need full articles about this. Mass extinctions inaugurate new eras, new chapters in Earth's story.

The mass extinction of the dinosaurs ended the Mesozoic era and began the Cenozoic era ~65 million years ago. The thing is, the Cenozoic era is the chapter of Earth's story, the last 65 million years, when life on Earth blossomed into the tremendous complexity and variety that we know today. It is also, of course, the time when humans developed.

Now, Western-style industrial growth society, with its insensitive, autistic disregard for all life, for the integral nature of the Earth community, and for the future beings of all species, has inaugurated the current mass extinction, known as the "sixth extinction". (There have been five previous mass extinctions.) This sixth extinction event, often abbreviated as 6X, is terminating the Cenozoic era. By destroying this era of stunning integral complexity, we destroy the very world that we live in, the world that our minds, psyches, and bodies developed to live within.

The termination of the Cenozoic era inaugurates another era. Thomas named it the Ecozoic era, when humans live in a mutually enhancing relationship with the Earth community. Other bleak futures are possible if we don't make radical systemic changes in our thinking, in our dreams, in our intentions, in our actions.


From the Species Alliance website: Human beings are on the verge of causing a mass extinction of life on Earth. A majority of the world's biologists now believe that if current trends continue, half of all species of plants and animals living today will be extinct by mid-century. The general public, however, is almost entirely unaware of this crisis.

Species Alliance is a nonprofit organization committed to raising public awareness of the mass extinction and its implications for humanity and the rest of the living world. We are dedicated to exploring and facilitating creative and effective responses. We aim to stimulate changes in public policies and human behavior which will assure a healthy future for life on Earth.

Although we are in the eleventh hour, there is still a chance to halt or significantly mitigate the extinction. Since the human species is the cause of the present crisis, we also have the power to stop it. https://www.speciesalliance.org/index.php

The founder, David Ulansey (Founder of Species Alliance and the film's Executive Producer) is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is the creator and webmaster of massextinction.net, the Web's oldest and most comprehensive source of information on the current mass extinction crisis. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Boston University, Barnard College (Columbia University), the University of Vermont, and Princeton University. He is the author of The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries (Oxford University Press), and has published articles in Scientific American and numerous other scholarly journals.