We Can't Spare a Square
The final message of Michael Tennesen's book The Next Species: The Future of Evolution in the Aftermath of Man is that humans are probably going to go the way of the crocodylomorphs (crocodile-jawed creatures that existed 230 million years ago, just before the age of the dinosaurs, and "spread across the lands, evolving into different forms, from slender, long-legged, wolf-like animals to huge, fearsome animals that were the apex predators of the food web") due to various causes (overpopulation, starvation, disease, loss of native species, exhausted soil, global warming, rising oceans, ocean acidification, etcetera) and it will probably be-- in a geological sense-- sooner, rather than later . . . this is where the analogies come into play, because, despite our intelligence, humans have great difficulty realizing what a young species we are and just how ubiquitous extinction is; Tennesen uses Stephen Jay Gould's explanation: "if our planet's beginning is the end of your nose and its present is your outstretched fingertip, then a single swipe of a nail file wipes out all of human history" and I recently hear Louise Leakey describe it like this: if the history of life on earth is a 400 sheet roll of toilet paper, then the dinosaurs take up fourteen sheets and modern humans have been around only for the last millimeter of the roll . . . so we haven't existed long enough to wipe our own ass.