Opinion:

The sixth world-wide mass extinction event, the one resulting from Homo sapiens killing off 95 per cent of the other living species, is now well under way.

Future geological layers will show it as having happened already, because nearly all of the land-based megafauna species, the ones whose fossil bones are most useful for dating purposes, have already been wiped out.

After each successive land mass was invaded by Homo sapiens, it took our species only a few thousand years to exterminate our largest competitors.

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Only in Africa, where our species co-evolved with other large animals over millions of years, did other species have time to start adapting to the new peak predator invading their territory.

The marine megafauna, being harder to locate and harvest than terrestrial species, survived for longer.

As our technology improved, however, they too began to disappear. The great whales were nearly wiped out in the 19th and twentieth centuries.

Only desperate lobbying, by Greenpeace and other vocal well-informed conservation groups, has kept them alive.

Currently we are doing our best to wipe out all the larger fish species, not out of need, but for money and sport.

Join thousands of other Kiwis and watch it happen on live TV. And as our seas are turned acid by CO2, as happened in previous great extinction events, the base of the food chain will die and all the larger species will follow.

I don't wish to speculate on ways in which groups of Homo Sapiens may seek to escape the new global killing zone. What science already tells us is that escaping to some other planet can never happen.

The absolute speed limit imposed by the laws of relativity, the vast distances required to be travelled, and the impossible energy demands to propel ourselves at speeds approaching that of light, mean our only hope for surviving is right here on Planet Earth, the very home we are currently destroying in our ignorance, stupidity and greed.

Could we perhaps stop or even reverse global warming? That would require world leaders like Donald Trump and Narendra Modi to firstly admit what is already happening, then recant all their former statements on the matter, then make saving Planet Earth a higher priority than every other government policy. And this would have to start right away.
What do you think is most likely?

At my age I don't expect to live to see the worst of it. Some of my children may see it. Maybe some of their children may. But by then, they'll be living on a planet changed out of all recognition from the one we grew up on. And in any case, it's almost certainly too late.

At the levels of greenhouse gases already poisoning our atmosphere, global warming will continue to increase to well past the current aspirational limit of 2C warming. And we're still spewing out more and more pollutants, so the warming and acidification will only get worse.

By the time these fatal changes have become obvious to everyone, say in another 50-100 years, mass dying of Homo Sapiens will already be well underway. Just look at what has already happened in heatwaves.

In 2013, two hot weeks killed 35,000 people in Europe. In 2010, a heat wave killed 15,000 in Russia. Far worse heat waves are coming, and with far fewer cool periods between them to allow a recovery. What do you think will happen? I say it won't just be thousands dying but millions, maybe hundreds of millions.

Living through the Great Dying is not going to be easy. Not even for multi-billionaires, like Trump donor Peter Thiel, now a N.Z. citizen, when he moves south to live on his newly-acquired block of New Zealand land, next to one of the largest, deepest, purest reserves of fresh water in the Southern Hemisphere.


*Bill Sutton is a former DSIR scientist and former MP for Hawke's Bay