The independent London newspaper

It’s how extinction works!

10 September, 2021

Illustration by John Sadler 

• I HAVE read the comments and fears of neighbours about the gulls that have come to live in Hornsey Rise Gardens, chatting on the roof-tops – rather loudly.

Since we arrived on this planet, we have killed. We have killed other life forms in vast numbers.

We killed for food, we’ve killed out of fear, we’ve killed anything that annoyed us and we did not want to cope with. We’ve killed our own species en masse in a way that no other animal has done.

You might say that our evolutionary path was brilliant, we have won the race, we are the super-killers – but now we have hit the wall.

Survival of the planet and its life forms is seriously in question. Then we went into phase two.

We grabbed a few species and turned them into what was convenient for us, particularly as food; a cow, a chicken, a deer, a horse, a dog and a pig.

When we first arrived there were massively more animals on the planet – all wild. Now only four per cent are wild. The rest, give or take, are created, domesticated.

It is estimated that the 58 per cent fall in numbers of vertebrate animals between 1970 and 2012 will have increased to a 67 per cent fall by 2020. During this period the population of homo sapiens will have doubled.

There is luckily a mass of humans, conservationists, who are trying every day to help people understand otherlife (all life other than humans), appreciate it, and save it from the callous slaughter.

To save the planet from burning up, we also have to save the oceans and the very soil that resources us. Those who want to follow that path are going to have to look at their own behaviour very closely and be much more critical.

We have to check every decision for signs of greed and destruction. This period in our history has been called the Anthropocene Epoch, the first period in which the disasters affecting the planet are all caused by us.

So far we are still doing more harm than good. Some people are determined that our planet will survive. They do everything they can to help people understand all life and the maybe possible routes to survival.

Artists, film-makers, explorers, scientists, produce fabulous materials. But for all their determination they can make only little progress because most of us just want more and more for ourselves and maybe do not care much about otherlife. Yet.

Those loud and cheery lesser black-backed and herring gulls (a red-listed species of conservation concern), breeding on the rooftops, are also part of this story. We don’t tolerate them because they are inconvenient, messy, and have their own wild cries.

So like every other animal they are being pushed out of their natural homes, will then be pushed into a city corner, and then another, and then another until they are gone.

Extinction. That’s how it works.



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