What happens after there is a mass extinction?

I have recently been wondering what would happen if our efforts to prevent a mass extinction end up failing? It is important to note that the Earth is not dying but instead it is adapting to become a planet that does not cater to humans anymore. Will humans end up evolving to withstand extreme conditions or will only a select few be chosen to live underground and restart all of humanity? Through the history of evolution, after a mass extinction, it is common that a small number of a species ends up evolving to their current environment.  On top of this, each of those species has diversified after hundreds of thousands of years, to create even more species than there were before. Scientists believe that it could take up to 10 million years for the biodiversity of the planet to recover after said mass extinction.  I wonder if the human species will diversify into subgroups of humans and we will have more physical identifiers than we do now. Even if humans did die out, the animals around us would diversify as well because of the lack of predators and man-made changes to the environment. Extinction in a way forces environmental innovation.

Nigeria vs The Oil & Gas Industry

The oil and gas industry in Nigeria is known to have started way back in 1909 which is over a 100 years ago. The discovery of oil in Nigeria in the year 1907 dates back to the pre-discovery of oil in the Middle East which was in Iran, November of 1908. Nigeria’s oil is situated in Niger Delta around the coastal areas of south-east Nigeria. Since the Biafra war (1967-1970), which was largely fought over the lucrative Niger Delta, the struggle for the control and sharing of the oil and gas resources in this area has dominated the country’s politics and development. What made it a major problem between the country and oil and gas industry was the public hanging of Ogoni playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa in 1995 by the military ruler, General Sani Abacha,  led to the emergence of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). Furthermore, this has become a major problem in the Niger Delta because it has affected the way of living so many families but not only that but it has also affected the health of the young children that live in those areas due to contamination in the water and gas flaring which affects the air they breathe. Oil spillage in Nigeria are a common occurrence; it has been estimated that between 9 and 13 million barrels (1,400,000 and 2,100,000 m3) have been spilled since oil drilling started in 1958. The government has estimated that about 7,000 spills of oil have occurred between 1970 and 2000.  The oil spills have a major impact on the ecosystem. Large tracts of mangrove forests have been destroyed in the Niger Delta. They are especially susceptible to oil spills because the oil is stored in the soil and re-released annually with each inundation. An estimated 5–10% of Nigerian mangrove ecosystems have been wiped out either by settlement or by oil. Spills also take out crops and aquacultures through contamination of groundwater and soils. Drinking water is frequently contaminated, and a sheen of oil is visible in many localised bodies of water. If the drinking water is contaminated, even if no immediate health effects are apparent, the numerous hydrocarbons and other chemicals present in oil represent a carcinogenic risk. Offshore spills, which are usually much greater in scale, contaminate coastal environments and cause a decline in local fishing production.

A man works at an illegal oil refinery site near river Nun in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa November 27, 2012.        Related image                         

The disappearance of the south China tiger

The survival of the south China tiger

Latin name of south China tiger: Panthera Tigris Amoyensis (xiamen tiger, south China tiger). In 1981, was included in the appendix Ⅰ CITES convention protection list, also known as “China tiger”, the south China tiger head round, short ears, limbs is bulky, tail is longer, the chest more milky white, orange and covered with black horizontal stripes. Fur has both short and narrow stripes, stripe spacing than Bengal tiger, Siberian tiger, side also often appear lozenge, in the subspecies of tiger body smaller. The south China tiger, which feeds on herbivorous animals such as wild boar, deer and roe deer, is one of the top ten endangered animals in China and a state-level protected animal. The red species list is critically endangered and extinct in the wild. The south China tiger is only distributed in China and is a unique subspecies of tiger.However, due to the great commercial interests and profits of the south China tiger over the past decades, the unbridled overhunting and indiscriminate killing led to the serious living conditions of the tiger. According to statistics, the wild south China tiger has completely disappeared, and only artificial breeding and zoo breeding can keep them from extinction. China has listed it as a national level 1 protected animal. Not only the south China tiger, but also countless species of wild animals in China. For example, the Tibetan antelope, human beings should reflect on their own, for money and let an animal extinction is not a wise behavior. No sale, no killing. I hope everyone will pay attention to it and not let the rate of extinction keep accelerating.

This is a link, you can get some information about the south China tiger.https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/south-china-tiger

“godlike agency” of humans (Junting Qiu, September 22, 2019)

I guess I am not the only one who hopes mosquitos can all be eliminated. In summer, they are annoying, make you feel itchy. People even start to use genetic technology to decrease the number of them. The experimental project in Fresno, California, has delivered 200,000 brand new lab-grown mosquitoes a season to the residents. As these genitally-deformed mosquitoes have entered circulation, the overall mosquito population has dropped by 95 percent. However, can we say that people are trying to make a deliberate extinction of a particular species? At the same time, with the growing influence of environmentalism, many consider the conservation of endangered species a moral obligation to humankind. It seems like people are subjectively increasing and decreasing biodiversity, changing nature, and acting as the god. In my perspective, people should not deliberately change the biodiversity. We cannot let those species, particularly the charismatic ones, dominate the conservation imagination; and, we also cannot recklessly eliminate a species which people hate. The real challenge is how to evaluate the loss and benefits of saving or eliminating a species. I believe it is wise for people to avoid using vague moral consideration to protect or reduce any kinds of species.

The day should be memorized by every Chinese (Ziqiang, September 20, 2019)

Today I want to share my personal experience of a catastrophe which was happened in Sichuan, China on May 12, 2008. There is an 8.2 magnitude earthquake occurred in the Wenchuan. It took ten thousands of people’s lives and destroyed their families. I was a little boy at the moment so that day did not have any specific meaning for me , even though I saw many people lit candles outside their house and closed their eyes to pray for the dead. I realized it was an extremely serious problem until I saw the news of it and my parents explained them to me. It not only was a tragedy for people living in Wenchuan but also for the whole of Chinese. The geographer explored the reason leading to this disaster and found that one of the reasons was that people established a dike in there. The aim of building a dike is for benefiting people, but why it resulted in an opposite outcome, which makes rethink it and connect this course. Terrestrial’s podcast has some similarities with it. Both dike and factory want to bring benefit to people, but not all of people. On the other hand, it takes the risk of harming  group of people around them. I think that I am really lucky since I did not experience such a disaster, but there are responsibilities for us to make a difference and avoid this kind of tragedy.

Green New Deal will success? (Rose, September 15, 2019)

Through the class, we watched two Youtube videos, one is from Alexandra Ocasio – Cortez, and the other one is from Mike Lee that both arguing about the proposed legislation of Green New Deal. The purpose of this legislation is to solve the problem of climate change and economic inequality. To assess the legislation, it is necessary to think about what GND can influence. The national Green Party gave a few lists to speak the benefit of this legislation. 1. Create 20 million jobs to prove 100% clean renewable energy. 2. Transit the communities and workers, who may displace because of the climate change problem, into green economy communities with receiving full income and benefits. 3. Increase the research funds for renewable energy and conservation communities and decrease the funds for fossil fuels. 4. Stop the destructive energy exploitation, imposed a greenhouse gas tax, desist from further sabotage for non-renewable resources. These are part of the benefits that the Green New Deal may influence to the environment. However, like the dialogue that Mike Lee used, “The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is”. There is no definition to speak about “green”, and there is no line to represent what should people do to achieve success. People always said we need to protect our earth, it is our home, we all want to change on some level, but what extent should we preserve it. Hence, from all the information I found, no one has mentioned it yet, how should we measure the degree of completes, and how should we define the Green New Deal is a success or not after several years? I think that is important to think about Green New Deal legislation.


Irrelevant to the above, I found a cute game (Game of Earth) that players can feel how do people impact the earth to form the word “Anthropocene”. Through this game, you are the designer to build your city with three little person’s suggestions. There will be some coal invest, population growth, and economic inequality impact, but it can feel how Anthropocene formed from your decisions. This game has both English and Mandarin language, feel free to play it on your phone!


Digging Deeper: Beyond the Theatrics (Precious, September 13, 2019)

While in class, we looked at the responses of Senator Mike Lee and U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the Green New Deal, it is time that we step back and find out for ourselves what the Green New Deal entails. The Green New Deal Resolution (GNDR) expresses that humans are primarily behind climate change and states how we need to begin acting to achieve a world that is no longer plagued by climate change. It is a document that lists all that we stand to lose if the issue goes unresolved. The GNDR also brings issues like gender and racial discriminatory pay to light and expresses the need to resolve this issue. Fortunately, this resolution is one that calls for creating jobs for prosperity and developing clean and renewable sources of energy. This resolution is also one that endeavors to completely eliminate greenhouse gases as well as solve the issue of wealth and wage disparity within 10 years. In this document, I have found nothing about killing “flatulating cows” as Senator Mike Lee puts it. As I myself have looked into what the GNDR entails, I encourage you, my fellow scholars, to look at it yourselves and form your own educated opinions. Decide for yourself if this proposed Green New Deal is ridiculous or sensible.


Green New Deal Resolution: https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hres109/BILLS-116hres109ih.pdf

Kolbert’s Great Visit! (Colin, Sept 8, 2019)

Award winning author, Elizabeth Kolbert had a great visit at American University last wednesday. She was interviewed by the writing studies director about her work The Sixth Extinction. Kolbert answered the questions of the writing studies director and she answered student questions. One of the more interesting things that Kolbert spoke about was her research methods. She mentioned that the book took her five years to write! Kolbert researched many different places around the world including Panama, to get information to write her book. Kolbert talked about how she wanted to connect different stories of animal extinction and connect it to an overall message, creating the narrative of “the sixth extinction”. Hearing Kolbert speak was very interesting and a great learning experience for me!

“I am a journalist, not a scientist!”(Alex, September 5, 2019)

On Wednesday night, American University was delighted to welcome Pulitzer Prize winner, Elizabeth Kolbert, to discuss the many ideas of her book and life. Students were able to ask their questions through the internet, and the dean of the English department had a high back and forth with the Author. The gym was filled with students, interested to hear her answers to their questions. The first question asked was, “Why did you want to write this book?” She discussed how her intentions she just wanted to write an article about Geroge W. Bushes policies during the beginning of his presidency. The debate of climate change was beginning in the early 2000s, but it was one of George W. Bushes promises to the American people. Kolbert then went to her Editor, saying she wanted to write a 3 part series about Climate Change. This series later evolved into the idea for The Sixth Extinction. The way she also wrote the book was not in an academic fashion. Elizabeth Kolbert wrote the book by cold-calling people to find connections to researchers. Once she found research facilities, she would travel and interview people in the communities. The majority of researchers are the one producing the actual evidence, but instead, Kolbert took the words of the researchers and made it a story. In all, Elizabeth Kolbert was able to small idea and make it into an award-winning book, even though she had never been a scientist or researcher in her life.