For years, President Obama, Democrats and 97 percent of the world’s scientists have been warning us that we must act on climate change or face dire circumstances. While Obama has taken executive steps to reduce our ecological footprint, Republicans and their billionaire backers, the Koch brothers, have brainwashed a large portion of our society into thinking climate change is some big hoax to protect their fossil fuel profits. We are now learning that our time may be running out to reverse the damage we have done to earth. A terrifying study, published on Friday in the journal Science Advances warns that the earth has entered its sixth mass extinction phase and humans are closer than ever to extinction.
The study, led by Princeton, Stanford and the University of California-Berkeley found that vertebrates– which include birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians– are disappearing at rates 114 times faster than normal. If that doesn’t scare you, the researchers explained it another way: under normal circumstances it takes between 800 to 10,000 years for the number of animals that have died in the last century to become extinct. Unsurprisingly, the researchers found that human activity is to blame for the extinction; they say that it’s still possible to turn this around but the “window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”
“Our analysis emphasizes that our global society has started to destroy species of other organisms at an accelerating rate, initiating a mass extinction episode unparalleled for 65 million years,” the researchers wrote. “Avoiding a true sixth mass extinction will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already threatened species and to alleviate pressures on their populations — notably habitat loss, overexploitation for economic gain, and climate change … However, the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.”
Since 1997, the Koch brothers have spent almost $80 million dollars (that number is likely much higher) to fuel the climate change denial machine. They have paid for simple-minded Republican ideologues to be put in office and their puppets have blocked climate change legislation every step of the way. Recently, they have been fighting to kill the Clean Power Plan, proposed Environmental Protection Agency, that would force states to reduce their carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Not only are their actions killing vertebrates, but they are in danger of killing us.
The study warned that because of the rapid extinctions, water purification and crop pollination could end in as little as three lifetimes:
“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover and our species itself would likely disappear early on.”
So while Republicans and the Kochs spread lies about how “Obama is going to burden your grandchildren and great-grandchildren with debt” myth, they are actually destroying the world that our grandchildren must live in. Their climate change denials are directly related to their huge corporate profits, made possible by their ability to freely pollute for so long. They don’t want President Obama and scientists to reverse the effects of climate change, because that will take money out of their pockets; they’d rather put the nails in our coffins.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.