It is generally accepted across science that life on Earth is facing a major extinction event, likely a mass extinction. Some have referred to this extinction to the 6th extinction – which I deal with in other posts – but regardless of what it’s called, the extinction process is happening now. Opinions differ on whether it’s in the beginning stages of the extinction or if we haven’t yet seen the true start of the mass extinction, but conservation scientists generally agree that if global deterioration continues, the mass extinction is inevitable. Is it reversable? Is it avoidable? Opinions differ on that too.
This series of essays are about this present extinction, but not just about who is going extinct or the dire consequences of our actions as humanity on Earth. Rather, my research focus is on solutions to decrease the magnitude of the extinction, through environmental and biological mitigations for species and ecosystems. In other words, I am looking for ways to help species of plants and critters survive the deteriorating global environment, to not go extinct. My work encompasses the past, present, and future: I look at paleontological data, I consider modern marine science, and I find predictions relevant for the future.
I’m a “boots-on-the-ground” scientist, which means that above all things, I prefer to be in the field, observing critters in the intertidal shoreline or gleaning fossils from rock outcrops. This enjoyable data collection leads to lab sessions – what scientist doesn’t enjoy unpacking specimens, observing details, seeing data come together in meaningful patterns? Then there’s the writing for peer-reviewed journals, which is followed by the peer-review process itself. This final part is a core component to acceptable science: your work is compiled, then your peers read it, and comment on strengths and weaknesses, suggesting potential fixes for problem spots in research and manuscripts. However, this last part is lengthy: it can be months to years between beginning the writing process and the final published release. Earth needs solutions now, not a year or two in the future.
Furthermore, scientific papers tend to be data and interpretation heavy, and provide little opportunity for musings, for the reports of discussions with colleagues, for untested ideas and thoughts on a topic, for inspirations and intuition. So, in this public space, I can do just that: these are my thoughts, and sometimes the raw reports of my research results, that I can post. These are ideas freed into electronic space that other researchers can use, this is a space to encourage thought on the topic.
Although I will speak on the problems facing Earth’s biodiversity, these essays are not meant as gloom-and-doom rantings. We meet sufficient gloom-and-doom on a daily basis. I instead would like to produce solutions or ideas that could lead to solutions. Maybe you’re the person who can directly apply my thoughts to research or decision-making. Or maybe you don’t work in conservation, but care about global biodiversity, and can consider how your decisions can align to creating solutions proposed here. That doesn’t mean you won’t get a share of gloom-and-doom here, but I hope to discuss those disturbing topics in light of novel thoughts on the past, present, or future global biosphere, or to report on something that I deem important that was overlooked in the past or “evergreen” scientific literature.
In any event, happy reading!