the sixth wave of mass exctintions

In 2010 I established a Facebook public international group dedicated to the issue of the mass extinction of non-human life on the planet. Since then I began to be engaged as much as I could in my spare time, in raising the awareness of the public opinion and school/university students on this important issue.

Towards the same goal, I also made a point to tell the story of my frontline engagement in attempting to save the oriental population of Northern Bald Ibis that I discovered in 2002 in Syria -through a non-fiction book, a literary reportage, titled “Salam Has Returned” (published in Italy in 2016, Exorma, Rome)- also translated into English and currently seeking a suitable interested publisher.

In recent years I have used this book and story as a pretext and starting point to explain and discuss the issue of wildlife mass extinctions through a series of public discussions and lectures - a list can be found here.

In August 2019 I wrote a popular article on the same issue for Mongabay.com. Here are some excerpts:

“The scientific imprimatur finally fell on us just two months ago: yes the one we are witnessing is only the beginning of a wave of mass ecocide of non-human life on Earth; a process that could wipe out a million species of plants and animals from our planet in the short term (decades).

About 15 thousand scientific studies (!) support this terrifying conclusion, as it can be read in the assessment report produced by the independent Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

After all, we, activists, were not so much “catastrophists” during the past decades in campaigning to protect nature and ringing alarms now and then about single wildlife species.”

“[…] how could I have ever imagined back then that I would personally witness and document, as a field conservationist, actual extinctions on the ground…"

“In fact no serious and pragmatic environmentalist would argue that socio-economic progress is unnecessary: we rather have been saying for decades that a new socio-economic paradigm is needed based on ecological and ethical grounds rather than on magic assumptions, like the laissez faire and the infinite economic growth, originated from the free market ideology.”

“If there is one important lesson learnt from my experience on the front line of nature devastation is that individual virtuosity -or single virtuous projects- won’t make any difference nor would have any impact globally. Not under the current system, I mean. Where for decades the emphasis on individual virtuosity (use the bike instead of the car, collect garbage at the beach, turn off the lights when not needed etc.) has been the main leit motif for environmental engagement.

Instead “transformative changes” are needed to tackle the current global ecological challenge, a term very appropriately used in the IPBES report. Given the fact that until now governments and international organizations (tightly “supervised” by the oil-dependent economic and financial élite of the world) have not shown any sign to do so, the only hope left is a mass global grass-root movement pushing governments for the bold reforms required. Before it is really too late.

What is needed is a high-level political global reform - a “green new deal” -with a focus on both limiting consumptions of resources and the population exponential growth. Focusing on only one of these two issues won’t save us. (Yes, industrialized countries still fantasize that the latter is the main issue to be tackled, removing from their conscience the former one).”

“Let’s not get enchanted and daydream again about the myths and shallow promises of high-tech utopians always claiming to be able to fix everything. The truth is that we don’t yet fully understand and we are therefore not able to tackle complex phenomenons related to life-supporting systems of the planet; the approach of high-tech utopians in these fields is still so naive and clumsily reductionist.

Economy is important no doubt, it is also about our survival and well being. But its formulation and implementation during the past 2 centuries has driven us into a dangerous no-return life-threatening development path.”

“Infinite economic growth is a magic buzz invented by once euphoric positivist economists and capitalists. Within the span of a century or so it has turned into an archaic and dangerous notion. It’s time to wake up for a serious reality check.

After all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!”