The current rate of extinctions compared to the geological norm is now several thousandfold faster, making this the sixth great mass extinction event in Earth’s history, and thus the start of the Anthropocene in its clearest demarcation, which is to say, we are in a biosphere catastrophe that will be obvious in the fossil record for as long as the Earth lasts.
It’s taken me far too long but I’m finally reading The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. In the paragraph before the quote above, he provides a list of recently extinct species, from that list: Saudi gazelle
Very sad news but not surprising. From habitat destruction to climate change to chemical agriculture, we’re wreaking havoc. Monarch butterflies are now listed as endangered
It seems fairly common amongst humans in modern societies that we seem to focus on our individual selves, we identify as singular human beings. Setting aside the importance of socialization and being a part of families, the human community, and the larger ecological community, it might also be worth mentioning that our individual human body is also not what it seems. Welcome to the human microbiome. Your body is human, bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists and viruses.
The human body is full of bacteria, and in fact is estimated to contain more bacterial cells than human cells.
Our bodies play host to a wide variety of microbes, called the human microbiota, that outnumber our own cells by about 10 to 1.
In any human body there are around 30 trillion human cells, but our microbiome is an estimated 39 trillion microbial cells including bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on and in us.
Due to their small size, these organisms make up only about 1-3 per cent of our body mass, but this belies the microbiome’s tremendous power and potential.
We have around 20-25,000 genes in each of our cells, but the human microbiome potentially holds 500 times more.
Moreover, the ability of microbes to evolve quickly, swap genes, multiply and adapt to changing circumstances give them – and us, their hosts – remarkable abilities that we’re only now beginning to fathom.