It has been pretty well established there have been 5 mass extinction events in the earth’s past. They were:
- 445 Million Years Ago – End of the Ordovician Period – 57% of all genera – most likely culprit: climate change.
- 370 Million Years Ago – Late Devonian Period – 70% of all marine species died off – oxygen depletion and global cooling.
- 250 Million Years Ago – End of the Permian Period – the worst, some estimate 96% of all species died out – super volcanos in Siberia the main cause.
- 200 Million Years Ago – End of the Triassic Period – 1/5th of all families of marine life were killed – most likely cause the eruption of the Central Atlantic magmatic province.
- 66 Million Years Ago – End of the Cretaceous Period – 76% of all living things on Earth- big rock from space and/or super volcanos in India.
Many scientists think we are in, or at the start of, the sixth extinction; this one man made. Even aside from climate change, some 322 species have gone extinct in the last 500 years due to man, with two-thirds of those occurring in the last two centuries due to habitat loss or over-hunting/fishing. According to a review published on May 29 in the journal Science, current extinction rates are up to a thousand times higher than they would be if people weren’t in the picture.
There is a new book about this possible man-made extinction event reviewed in LiveScience titled, “Beyond the Sixth Extinction: A Post-Apocalyptic Pop-Up” by Shawn Sheehy, which LiveScience says; “artfully imagines the grotesque creatures that could live in a possible future — one reshaped by disasters so destructive that 75 to 80 percent of life on Earth went extinct.” Again from the article:
Set in the year 4847, “Beyond the Sixth Extinction” is a bestiary representing inhabitants of nightmarish ecosystems of the future, and Sheehy uses intricately crafted 3D paper pop-ups to introduce a host of highly unusual animals. At first glance, they somewhat resemble wildlife alive today. However, the newly imagined species sport highly unusual adaptations that help them survive in harsh and extreme environments, Sheehy told Live Science… In “Beyond the Sixth Extinction,” eight imagined species of the future are the end product of thousands of years of evolution after a human-driven global-extinction event. Over millennia, they adapted to withstand high levels of harmful radiation, and they are capable of absorbing nutrients from whatever is available, even objects that their ancestors would have found inedible, Sheehy explained.
For example, the book’s “rex roach” is about the size of a puppy, with a stretchy shell that allows it to expand and contract its body like a bellows, taking in more oxygen and enabling them to grow bigger than insects today. Or the “clam fungus” that clusters atop landfills and breathes methane, the “mudmop,” a bottom-dwelling fish with a face full of tentacles, and the “rotrap,” a rat-like animal that lives its adult life permanently attached to walls in flooded nuclear reaction chambers.
Sheehy says even though such a future world seems bleak, the supreme adaptability of life means once the problem species is out of the way, life would bounce back.
Well, over the Thanksgiving Holiday, my daughter, grandson, and great-grandson were visiting for a few days, and we were doing what most modern families do these days for entertainment; streaming and binge-watching series on Hulu. They talked me into watching some episodes of “The Walking Dead”, a show about a “zombie apocalypse”. I am not normally a fan of zombie shows (Shaun of the Dead a notable exception). I tend to get hyper-critical in a nerdy sort of way and instead of suspending disbelief and “going with the flow” of the show, I start picking apart the holes in the plot lines. Like where do they get all the bazillions of bullets they fire off each show if production is no longer occurring? And speaking of production, where is all the gasoline coming from they use to endlessly drive around? Why do dead people need to eat, anyway?
Anyway, after reading the LiveScience article noted above and watching the show, I was in an apocalyptic state of mind and came across this LiveScience article about post-zombie apocalypse. The article asserts there are 9 keys to rebuilding civilization after a zombie, or presumably, any other type of apocalypse occurs. They are:
- Power in numbers. A civilization is impossible without people — that much seems obvious. But the key is having enough people, and the right mix of people.
- Protect yourself. Protection from the elements, and zombies in the case of “The Walking Dead,” is a basic need for human survival. Without shelter, there would be no hope of building a civilization.
- Food and water. Besides shelter, a community needs a reliable food and water supply to survive.
- Shared goals. The communities that own something together are going to do better than those that don’t have a sense of sharedness.
- Fair consequences. One of the more challenging aspects of building and sustaining a civilization is deciding on punishment for intolerable actions. More specifically, what to do with the cheaters, because civilization can’t sustain itself if it’s based on a “winner takes all” structure.
- Document and share knowledge. All of the experts Live Science spoke with mentioned the importance of inheriting information and sharing knowledge.
- Technology and manufacturing. Someone has to make the clothing, tools, weapons. There needs to be some sort of manufacturing of just basic commodities.
- Health care. Perhaps the most daunting enemies of ancient civilizations were the diseases they contracted from outsiders.
- The biggest problem in building civilizations is when the lack of sharing resources creates divisions and then forces communities to compete with one another.
So here are some questions for discussion. Could we rebuild civilization after it crashed? Are there other factors besides these 9 that would be necessary? If we can rebuild civilization, why can’t we prevent it from crashing in the first place? Many of us are familiar with the apocalyptic scenarios presented by premillennial dispensationalism and the “Left Behind” books. Do you agree with that position, or is there another position you think the Bible presents? Or do you think the Bible presents an explicit scenario at all?