Archaeologists have unearthed 13,400-year-old weapons crafted by the Clovis people mixed in with bones from an extinct elephant relative.
LiveScience Senior Writer July 15, 2014
There’s a new mega-mammal on the menu of America‘s first hunters.
On a ranch in northwestern Sonora, Mexico, archaeologists have discovered 13,400-year-old weapons mingled with bones from an extinct elephant relative called the gomphothere. The animal was smaller than mastodons and mammoths, but most had four sharp tusks for defense.
The new evidence puts the gomphothere in North America at the same time as a prehistoric group of paleo-Indians known as the Clovis culture, whose beautifully crafted projectile points helped bring down giant Ice Age mammals, including mammoths. This is the first time gomphothere fossils have been discovered with Clovis artifacts.
“The Clovis stereotypically went out and hunted mammoth, and now there’s another elephant on the menu,” said Vance Holliday, a co-author on the new study, published today (July 14) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — The American Dream? Now a Global Nightmare? A ticking time bomb, a lethal virus spreading worldwide, could destroy the entire world, backfire, take down America and capitalism? Yes.
But, first, a little history: Five years ago Bill Gates and his Billionaires Club asked that question. But gave up. Here’s why.
Gates’ billionaires essentially asked: What do you think is the single, biggest ticking time bomb that will eventually take down global economies? The absolutely biggest one with a trigger mechanism that can ignite, set off a nuclear chain reaction that will throw a permanent wrench in global economic growth, ending capitalism, potentially destroying modern civilization as we know it.
Yes, that one. The one that — if not solved soon — renders all efforts to solve all other problems in the world irrelevant, futile and virtually impossible ever to solve. Yes, that one. What is the “big one?” Several alternative predictions have also been reported:
* Global wars? Pentagon warns warfare will define human life by 2020.
* Big Oil? Bill McKibben’s “End of Nature” prediction could ignite soon.
* Capitalism? Many progressives see capitalism destroying democracy.
* Inequality? Pope says inequality is the root of all social problems.
* Climate warming? 2,000 UN scientists warn humans are killing Earth.
* Technology? Robert Gordon says we can’t stop GDP falling to 1%.
Biggest risk? Guess again: Not warfare … not the inequality… not energy resource depletion … not global warming … not out-of-control capitalists … yes, all are important, all part of the domino effect, the chain reaction as the global clock winds down to zero.
Yes, five years ago the one-percenters thought they knew. Bill Gates and his Billionaires Club were certain, unanimous. Gates had brought together billionaire philanthropists in a supersecret meeting in Manhattan about the time the market last bottomed. Included: Buffett, Rockefeller, Soros, Bloomberg, Turner, Oprah and others. The London Times Online reported that during the afternoon session each spoke about their favorite charities.
Then, the big question: What was the underlying, core problem driving all their interests? The world’s biggest time-bomb?
Overpopulation said the billionaires. Too many people on Planet Earth.
True, the United Nations predicts that by 2050 global population will explode by as much as 40%, from more than 7 billion today to 10 billion. Overcrowding. Demanding. But as Scientific American repeatedly warns in special issues, population is “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment.” The “third-rail” for politicians, ignored by the world’s political leaders.
Three delusions: the American Dream mutates into Global Nightmare
But there’s an even bigger problem that will peak and backfire as the American Dream goes viral. For a couple generations, spread by the economics of globalization, the American Dream has been exported, spreading the capitalism virus worldwide, accelerating global GDP growth, infecting every nation and individual with their own mind-set imbedded in the promise of the “perpetual prosperity” inherent in the American Dream.
The effect? Today capitalism, globalization, the new Global Dream, the virus is rapidly spreading, mesmerizing the brains of everyone … mass-producing new billionaires … global lists on Forbes, Bloomberg and CNBC report an explosion from 322 billionaires in 2000 to 1,847 in 2014… China now has 358 billionaires … Africa has 29, adding nine last year … today, 85 of the world’s richest billionaires make more that the 3.5 billion in the bottom half … Credit Suisse predicts 11 trillionaire families in the world by 2100.
But three self-destructive delusions dominate today’s billionaires:
1. Delusion 1: Perpetual economic growth on planet of limited resources
The Super Rich are trapped a classic delusion now ingrained in the collective unconscious of the world. They have ingested a self-destructive gene. They believe the same capitalism ideology that made them superrich will continue indefinitely, that economic growth is perpetual, even on a planet of clearly limited resources. This delusion is rampant in Exxon Mobil and the energy industries as they race ahead with an unsustainable business model that’s rapidly depleting nonreplaceable natural resources.
2. Delusion 2: New technologies will replace disappearing resources
The club of billionaires believes technology will overcome the limitations of resources and thus fuel the perpetual economic growth essential to create more and more billionaires, that some of this eternal prosperity will also trickle down to the world’s poorest 3.5 billion people. Economist Robert Gordon refutes that assumption in his rhetorical National Business Research Institute piece “Is U.S. Economic Growth Over?” Silicon Valley technology will never overcome all the headwinds reflected by today’s raging self-destructive political, economic and religious conflicts.
3. Delusion 3: Mutant Capitalists do not need to share the future
The new billionaires in America and worldwide have forgotten that the same capitalism that fueled the American Dream since 1776, that created the democracy supporting their accumulated billions, was a legacy that, in the past, also meant hope for the masses of Americans and all nations, that everyone, no matter how poor, had equal opportunities.
Unfortunately, as Jack Bogle warns, while spreading the American Dream we’re also a spreading a new Mutant Capitalism, a virus infecting superrich billionaires: Further widening the inequality gap, stifling opportunities for most Americans and people worldwide, hoarding the power, wealth and opportunities for those already in the top one percent, already listed among global billionaires.
Billions are in denial of their self-destructive delusions: “One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse,” warns Jared Diamond, an evolutionary biologist, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” Many “civilizations share a sharp curve of decline. Indeed, a society’s demise may begin only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power.”
Harvard financial historian Niall Ferguson, author of “Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire,” was more dramatic, hard-hitting, immediate: The world will be caught by surprise, unprepared. The coming collapse will “accelerate suddenly, like a sports car … like a thief in the night.” Crashing. Shocking us wide awake.
Paradox of Prosperity: the Global Dream will also peak, collapse
Today we’re all being misled by these three delusions. As Diamond warns: “There are ‘optimists’ who argue that the world could support double its human population.” But he adds, they “consider only the increase in human numbers and not average increase in per-capita impact. But I have not heard anyone who seriously argues that the world could support 12 times it’s current impact.” But that’s exactly what happens with “all Third World inhabitants adopting First World standards.”
Every nation in the world has its own version of the American Dream, the new Global Dream. Everyone wants prosperity, success, opportunity. More is never enough, either individually or nationally. Not just 310 million Americans, but 7.3 billion people worldwide are demanding more, more … on a finite planet with dwindling natural resources, as economist Michael Klare warns in his book “The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for World’s Last Resources.”
Bottom line: As the world population explodes 40% in the next generation, “what really counts,” says Diamond, “is not the number of people alone, but their impact on the environment, the per-capita impact.” First World citizens “consume 32 times more resources such as fossil fuels, and put out 32 times more waste, than do the inhabitants of the Third World.” \
And it’s delusional to think this trend will disappear. It will get worse because billionaires are in massive denial about their delusions … the self-destructive Global Dream will continue … until a catastrophic black swan shocks us awake.
Earth’s ‘megafauna’ vanished as tribes spread. Now palaeontologists are asking if early humans were the cause
[What the hell do they mean "Now?" We've known about the mass extinction of megafauna known as the American Blitzkrieg for decades...]
Robin McKie, science editor
- The Observer, Saturday 15 March 2014
They were some of the strangest animals to walk the Earth: wombats as big as hippos, sloths larger than bears, four-tusked elephants, and an armadillo that would have dwarfed a VW Beetle. They flourished for millions of years, then vanished from our planet just as humans emerged from their African homeland.
It is one of palaeontology’s most intriguing mysteries and will form the core of a conference at Oxford University this week when delegates will debate whether climate change or human hunters killed off the planet’s lost megafauna, as these extinct giants are known.
“Creatures like megatherium, the giant sloth, and the glyptodon, a car-sized species of armadillo, disappeared in North and South America about 10,000 years ago, when there were major changes to climates – which some scientists believe triggered their extinctions,” said Yadvinder Malhi, professor of ecosystem science at Oxford, one of the organisers of the conference, Megafauna and Ecosystem Function.
“However, it is also the case that tribes of modern humans were moving into these creatures’ territories at these times – and many of us believe it is too much of a coincidence that this happened just as these animals vanished. These creatures had endured millions of years of climate change before then, after all. However, this was the first time they had encountered humans.”
Modern humans emerged from Africa around 70,000 years ago, travelled across Asia and reached Australia 50,000 years ago, a time that coincides with a wave of extinctions of creatures there, including the diprotodon, a species of wombat that grew to the size of a modern hippopotamus. By about 14,000 years ago, humans had reached North America by crossing the land bridge that then linked Siberia and Alaska. Then they headed south.
By 10,000 years ago, Homo sapiens had conquered North and South America at a time that coincided with major megafauna extinctions, including those of the giant sloth and the glyptodon.
“We think of Africa and south-east Asia – with their lions, elephants and rhinos – as the main home of large animals today, but until very recently in our planet’s history, huge creatures thrived in Australia, North America and South America as well,” said Professor Adrian Lister of the Natural History Museum in London. “The question is: why did they disappear in the new world but survive in the old world?
“Some believe it is because large animals in Africa and south-east Asia learned to become wary of human beings and decided to avoid them at all costs. However, I also think climate change may have been involved in the Americas and Australia and that humans only finished off these big animals when they were already weakened by loss of habitats and other climate-related problems.”
The idea that humans were involved in any way in eradicating dozens of species of giant animal when we were still hunter-gatherers has important implications in any case. It was thought, until relatively recently, that it was only when humans invented agriculture several thousand years ago that our species’ relationship with the natural world become unbalanced. Until then, humans had a close affinity with nature. But if ancient hunter-gatherers played a part in wiping out these species of huge animals as long as 50,000 years ago, humanity’s supposed innate harmony with the living world appears misplaced.
More to the point, humanity is still paying the price for the disappearance of the megafauna of the Americas and Australia, the Oxford conference will hear. “There is now a lot of evidence to suggest that large herbivores like gomphotheres, a family of elephant-like animals that went extinct in South America around 9,000 years, played a key role in spreading nutrition in areas like the Amazon. They would eat fruit in the forest, including avocados, and their excrement would then fertilise other areas. That no longer happens and places like the Amazon are today affected by low nutrition as a result,” Malhi said.
Another example is provided by the giant wombat, the diprotodon, which some scientists have argued browsed bush across Australia and kept biomass levels very low. When the diprotodon vanished, plants and shrubs across the outback grew unhindered. The result was major bush fires which, archaeologists have discovered, became a serious problem just after the giant wombat disappeared from Australia.
Diprotodon, the largest known marsupial, which used to roam Australia. Photograph: AlamySimilarly, creatures such as the mammoth played a key role in trampling tundra and maintaining healthy grasslands in high latitudes such as Siberia. When the mammoth became extinct, the tundra took over to the detriment of the landscape.
“It is now becoming clear that lots of our understanding of contemporary ecology is incomplete because it does not take into account that ecosystems were adopted to having giant animals like the mammoth or the diprotodon,” added Malhi. “These are not natural systems today because they are missing key components to which most plants had adopted.”
This awareness has led some scientists to propose moving populations of the planet’s surviving large animals into regions where they could help restore the ecologies to their previous healthy conditions. One such experiment is being carried out by the ecologist Sergey Zimov at a nature reserve called Pleistocene Park in Siberia. Zimov has reintroduced musk ox, moose and other large animals and is attempting to find out if their browsing will restore the landscape to its previous healthy, grassy state. Zimov is also scheduled to speak at the Oxford conference. Other researchers go even further and have proposed bringing extinct megafauna back to life. For example, several scientists have suggested that it could be possible to clone a mammoth from frozen remains found in Siberia using an Asian elephant as a surrogate mother.
Lister was cautious about the prospects of such work, however. “I think people greatly underestimate the incredible difficulties involved. The mammoth corpses we have found are thousands of years old and we have yet to find one that possesses an entire, intact cell with a nucleus. Without that, you are going to find it very difficult to bring an animal like a mammoth back to life.”
In fact, the real lesson from the fate of the Earth’s megafauna is to appreciate how important surviving species are to our planet. Oxford University ecologist Emily Read, a conference organiser, said: “We need to protect the megafauna that we have. More than 20,000 elephants were killed in 2012 for ivory and rhino numbers are declining because their horns are traded, illegally, at more than the price of gold. It’s not just the cultural value of these large animals that we need to think about, but the fact that removing them affects the whole ecosystem.”
Hope you’ve enjoyed civilized life, folks. Because a new study sponsored by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center says the world’s industrial societies are poised to collapse under the weight of their own unsustainable appetites for resources. There goes the weekend . . . and everything after it for the rest of our lives.
The research article appears in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Ecological Economics, but Dr. Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, has a more understandable (but no less harrowing) summary over at The Guardian. Either way, the news isn’t good—as the researchers point out, history doesn’t seem to hold out any favor for advanced societies.
The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent.
Who’s to blame? You. Me. Everyone walking around outside your window. Even the technology we invented to save us from ourselves is contributing to our decline.
Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use.
Is there a way out? Of course. But you’re probably not gonna like it. Dr. Ahmed sums up the researchers’ suggestions:
The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth.
Which is just as difficult and improbable as it sounds.
Seriously, you should read the whole rundown of what the research says. It’s eye-opening, and a serious call to action—if the crushing bleakness of what we’ve done to ourselves hasn’t already doomed you to abandon all hope. Here, watch a funny video to make you feel better. [The Guardian]
[I guess I've always know humans were bad for the planet. I wrote this back in 1979.]
We’ve broken all
of Mother Nature’s laws.
In her perfection
we create the flaws.
We kick her, ungrateful,
like a child in the womb.
We could see the truth,
but avert our eyes.
Rule her like gods,
living shallow lives
on our self-appointed throne
we’re the beasts out of tune.
Out of tune,
nearly out of room.
We’ll have to face Her soon.
She doesn’t complain
when we kick in the womb,
when we grow and grow
Take up so much room.
Her maternal love is our sanctuary.
But unless we love her in return
(as a spoiled child,
we must mature)
the kicks may cause her to miscarry.
Beasts out of tune,
the love must come soon.
EU Times on Jun 21st, 2010
As the scientist who helped eradicate smallpox he certainly know a thing or two about extinction.
And now Professor Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, has predicted that the human race will be extinct within the next 100 years.
He has claimed that the human race will be unable to survive a population explosion and ‘unbridled consumption.’
Fenner told The Australian newspaper that ‘homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years.’
‘A lot of other animals will, too,’ he added.
‘It’s an irreversible situation. I think it’s too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.’
Since humans entered an unofficial scientific period known as the Anthropocene – the time since industrialisation – we have had an effect on the planet that rivals any ice age or comet impact, he said.
Fenner, 95, has won awards for his work in helping eradicate the variola virus that causes smallpox and has written or co-written 22 books.
He announced the eradication of the disease to the World Health Assembly in 1980 and it is still regarded as one of the World Health Organisation’s greatest achievements.
He was also heavily involved in helping to control Australia’s myxomatosis problem in rabbits.
Last year official UN figures estimated that the world’s population is currently 6.8 billion. It is predicted to exceed seven billion by the end of 2011.
Fenner blames the onset of climate change for the human race’s imminent demise.
He said: ‘We’ll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island.
‘Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we’re seeing remarkable changes in the weather already.’
‘The Aborigines showed that without science and the production of carbon dioxide and global warming, they could survive for 40,000 or 50,000 years.
‘But the world can’t. The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we’ve seen disappear.’
A map of the world from an atlas which concentrates on population rather than land mass released last year. The Earth’s population is due to hit 7bn by next year
Retired professor Stephen Boyden, a colleague of Professor Fenner, said that while there was deep pessimism among some ecologists, others had a more optimistic view.
‘Frank may well be right, but some of us still harbour the hope that there will come about an awareness of the situation and, as a result the revolutionary changes necessary to achieve ecological sustainability.’
Simon Ross, the vice-chairman of the Optimum Population Trust, said: ‘Mankind is facing real challenges including climate change, loss of bio-diversity and unprecedented growth in population.’
Professor Fenner’s chilling prediction echoes recent comments by Prince Charles who last week warned of ‘monumental problems’ if the world’s population continues to grow at such a rapid pace.
And it comes after Professor Nicholas Boyle of Cambridge University said that a ‘Doomsday’ moment will take place in 2014 – and will determine whether the 21st century is full of violence and poverty or will be peaceful and prosperous.
in the last 500 years there has been a cataclysmic ‘Great Event’ of international significance at the start of each century, he claimed.
In 2006 another esteemed academic, Professor James Lovelock, warned that the world’s population may sink as low as 500 million over the next century due to global warming.
He claimed that any attempts to tackle climate change will not be able to solve the problem, merely buy us time.
To all those of breeding age who are considering starting a family or adding yet another human child to this already dangerously over-crowded world, I politely urge you, with all due respect, to please think again. If not for the fragile planet’s sake or for the sake of every other struggling life form headed for mass extinction, then for the child’s sake, your sake and for sanity’s sake. Go ahead and adopt, whether human or non-human, but please don’t add to every environmental woe known to—and caused by—man by falling prey to the ill-advised notion that propagating is our duty or prerogative.
The world as we know it is headed for collapse. Do you really want your precious offspring to witness the unraveling of all of Earth’s systems or suffer the reckoning that’s soon to befall those unfortunate enough to be here when humankind’s self-serving environmental crimes come back on them? Can’t you see that the sheer weight of the human race is crushing everything and everyone else?
As a good friend, a young woman wise beyond her years, put it, those who consider reproducing to be a positive prospect for the twenty-first century “must be closing their eyes, plugging up their ears, and singing ‘Lalalala!’ very loudly.”
What goes up must come down, people; and for the past couple of hundred years or so, the human population has been accelerating skyward—breaking all sound barriers in a headlong quest to defy gravity, burst out of the Earth’s atmosphere and sail on to oblivion—taking all of creation with it.
by Jim Robertson
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s one thing about Homo sapiens that can’t be denied: the species has come a long way from its primate origins—but that’s not necessarily a good thing. From a peaceful plant-eating past, hominids have clawed their way to the top of the food chain, and now the planet’s atmosphere, climate and web of life are all suffering for it.
We’ve evolved so far from the common ancestor we share with chimpanzees and gorillas, that now they’re just a curiosity—side show freaks—to be gawked at between bars or in tiny “habitats” at the neighborhood zoo.
They’re just animals, why should we respect them as our kin? Did they rise from their simple roots, eating from the bottom of the food chain, to become the most successful big-game hunter of all time? Do they carry out wars on a global scale that threaten the very existence of life on Earth? Have they changed the climate for the worse and caused the current extinction spasm? No, only humankind can claim all those achievements.
And we owe it all to eating meat. The transformation from peaceful plant eater to weapon-wielding predator may have made us top dog, but, as they say, it’s lonely at the top. Not only is meat-eating hard on human health, but the carnivorous ways of such a rapidly growing population of conscious-less killers are taking the planet down with them.
We re-invented ourselves once as a species when we climbed down out of the trees and set out across the savannas, spear in hand, in search of “game.” Now it’s time to re-invent ourselves again, for the good of all. It’s not written in stone that humans have to destroy the Earth and all its inhabitants. Reinvention is as simple laying down our weapons and returning to a more sustainable place lower on the food chain. Trading in our collective ego trip and symbolically returning to the trees may go against human nature, but it’s preferable to self-imposed extinction.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013, 16:20
Washington: A study, which is the most detailed range-wide assessment of the
bonobo- formerly known as the pygmy chimpanzee- ever conducted, has revealed
that this endangered great ape is quickly losing space in a world because of
forest fragmentation and poaching.
The research was conducted by University of Georgia, University of Maryland,
the Wildlife Conservation Society, ICCN (Congolese Wildlife Authority),
African Wildlife Foundation, Zoological Society of Milwaukee, World Wildlife
Fund, Max Planck Institute, Lukuru Foundation, University of Stirling, Kyoto
University, and other groups.
Using data from nest counts and remote sensing imagery, the research team
found that the bonobo avoids areas of high human activity and forest
According to the model developed by the researchers in the study, as little
as 28 percent of the bonobo’s range remains suitable.
“This assessment is a major step towards addressing the substantial
information gap regarding the conservation status of bonobos across their
entire range. The results of the study demonstrate that human activities
reduce the amount of effective bonobo habitat and will help us identify
where to propose future protected areas for this great ape,”
lead author Dr. Jena R. Hickey of Cornell University and the University of
The bonobo is smaller in size and more slender in build than the common
chimpanzee. The great ape’s social structure is complex and matriarchal.
Unlike the common chimpanzee, bonobos establish social bonds and diffuse
tension or aggression with sexual behaviors.
Second author of the study, Dr. Janet Nackoney, said Bonobos that live in
closer proximity to human activity and to points of human access are more
vulnerable to poaching, one of their main threats. The results point to the
need for more places where bonobos can be safe from hunters, which is an
enormous challenge in the DRC.
The study is published in journal Biodiversity and Conservation.