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TimeLine - Signs of the Times

The Extinction Spike- Megaphenomena

Life Disappears Before Our Eyes


This is the second of four "spikes" described by Mr. Ayers (see book reference below). The spikes are rapid increases in global changes. Each spike looks very much like the illustration provided above. Here the focus is on the irreversible loss and elimination of many species–i.e., extinction.

... Yet it, like the silent rise in CO2, is largely invisible to the majority of us: it is a sudden, sharp rise in the number of species in the world experiencing population crashes and going extinct. Many of the species are disappearing without our ever noticing; as we go about our everyday lives, they are dying off in distant forests, deep ocean waters, or in the soil under our feet. Yet their disappearance threatens to unravel the web of life that sustains our everyday lives. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 25

Imagine the web like a fabric of species. Pull enough threads from the fabric and the interdependent network of life's cloth unravels. Worn by mounting extinctions the fabric loses its function and vitality, no longer sustained by life's full presence, now the word ecology becomes a lifeless term, and the decline for some species affects others in turn. Evolution by its presumed processes over time would not be able to keep up. And if evolution's products appeared by other special conditions that are not reproducible, there is no way to reinstate life by any means what so ever! (see Science Area for the reasons life's appearance is so incredibly special, beyond what evolution theory alone can tell us!)


The Diversity of All Species Alive Today

The diversity is what fades as species go extinct. And one global change does not stand alone but in fact many factors influence other changes elsewhere on the globe.

Scientists have been studying this phenomenon of decimated animal and plant life, or biodiversity loss, with as much intensity and concern as they've been studying CO2 and climate change. Not surprisingly, the two spikes turn out to be linked, in some important ways. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 26

Again, the scientific community has been aware for some time and even exclaimed in virtual unison over the worrisome changes now taking place.

It's also not surprising, then, that the World Scientists' Warning to Humanity, in its summary of the main problems we face, refers to the threat of declining biodiversity as well as that of incipient climate change. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 28

Lets put this in a greater context. When links between multiple species are life's blood to an ecosystem, and ecosystems are communities of plants and animals working to create viable environmental areas on the face of the earth, then breaking links breaks down the environment for life and erodes or eliminates earth's life systems.

But there's a second point that's likely to hit home with even the most self-centered. The variety of species is important not only to long-term evolution but to short-term stability of ecosystems, including those which are the sources of human food. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 31

And we, our food sources, our livelihood, are linked to the biodiversity and ecology that are fading—even now as we stand here! How can we grasp the magnitude of what's being lost. In practical terms we might find a way to measure what's there and determine what's lost over time. We might describe this in terms of an ecological economy:

... in 1997, a study published in the British journal Nature found that the economic value of ecological services–such as soil formation, water filtration, biological control of pests, and production of oxygen–far exceeds the value of the entire human economy. Bees, and other wild insects, for example, pollinate about 80 percent of the world's major crops, other than grains ... the bees, too, are disappearing. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 33

How does our knowing what exactly is being lost begin to overcome what cannot be regained? Now, lets consider a sobering example, have you ever stopped to think about the impact of losing bees? What would the effect be if only bees were lost over the entire earth ... to say the least this would be devastating to both ecological and human economies. No bee pollination of many plants, means no fruit, no seed, and a severe blow to our agricultural harvests. We really have to think in terms of the big picture, and it's within the larger global sphere that changes now occur!

But, you might keep asking, how serious is this ... really ... is extinction really a horrendous problem today?

[With regard to a survey conducted by the American Museum of natural History in a New York ...]

... The survey found that a large majority of the scientists believe that during the next thirty years, one of every five species alive today will become extinct. A third of the scientists predicted that as many as half of all species will die out in that time. The consensus was that the Earth is now in the throes of the fastest mass extinction in the planet's history–which would make it even faster than when the dinosaurs died. At the same time, the museum conducted a parallel survey of the general public, with a curious finding: most people were unaware that we are in the midst of a biological crash–and that it is a crash we have brought upon ourselves. Ayers, God’s Last Offer, page 34

Remember, there is no alternate planet to move to, nor a companion Earth from which to retrieve extra species once lost here. And as you continue to learn about the many facets of global change, the problems continue to loom ever larger as humanity gets swept up in a myriad of other issues. When will we turn from the other conflicts and challenges to address the mounting tidal wave of change? Will we take on the challenge or, if ever, do we finally get around to this once it's too late?

To have a sustained presence on earth, humans need biodiversity's sustained presence. To lose life by extinction is to erode sustainability and to weaken our grasp on the future. Is sustainability a dream, a buzz word, an achievable goal, or a concept already beyond reach. You'll hear this term in the news from time to time and there are efforts to work toward a sustainable future, but take a closer look to see progress is slow and in a practical sense limited compared to hopeful and grand expectations for the future. We don't want to be entirely pessimistic, but taking a long sober look certainly comes with a chilling reality.

The importance to global change is in looking at how social, biological, and physical sciences all reveal data and signs for more ominous changes in the near future. This is change in every aspect of human and earthly affairs ... globally. The Window looks further to see change as a backdrop to a biblical timeline. Driving forces for change force us to ask the most important questions about our true origin, who we are, why we are here, and what the Scriptures tell us about the future. Change forces us to look deeper to face choice or crisis. Life is an opportunity to look for the answers.

Please Note! We are presenting a number of quotations in the "Signs of the Times" series that are taken from their original context. So Be Aware ... the impact of these statements is only heightened and intensified by a reading of the original text cited below. WindowView serves to reflect many original sources and in this case we highly recommend a reading of the entire book used as a source here! The 'Signs' are woefully important to revealing humanity's future, reading these quotations in their original context makes this point all the more clear!

Quotations attributed to 'Ayers' are from: Ed Ayers. 1999. God's Last Offer - Negotiating for a Sustainable Future. Published by: Four Walls Eight Windows (

Mr. Ayers is the Editor of World Watch magazine, a product of the Worldwatch Institute, Washington D.C. The institute is a 'think tank' that often puts out publications that note change in the world theater from the perspectives of economics, policy, resource uses, and the potential for global trends based on past and current human activity. This is a secular institution and the title of Mr. Ayers' book makes no special reference to a particular theological framework.

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