Date of Award
Program or Major
Master of Arts
John T. Kirkpatrick
The last stages of a global mass extinction event (GME) that started in the Pleistocene is likely to be continuing across the nations of the Earth. In the United States (“Nation”), it will likely climax (“Climax”) by 2100 AD when it will wipe out about 80% of endemic, vertebrate wildlife species. It will reduce the populations and ranges of the Nation’s surviving vertebrate species to minimal values. This will be the 6th such mass extinction of wildlife species to have occurred in the Earth’s history.
This is a reasonable inference from available data reported in journal articles since 1990 on continuing losses in population size within all taxonomic classes of the Nation’s vertebrate wildlife. Since 1970, vertebrate wildlife in the United States has been reduced to representing only about 5% of the biomass of vertebrate animals living in the United States, with farm animals, Hominin, and its pets accounting for the other 95% of all the Nation’s vertebrate animal biomass. FN
The annually growing GDP and Hominin population of the Nation is the expected default cause of the mass extinction of vertebrate wildlife in the United States. Climate change can only be seen as a minor contributing to these wildlife losses. The controlling reality is there is only a finite amount of arable land in the United States and most of it is now dedicated to the commercial, residential and recreational use of Hominin. The annually growing Hominin population of the Nation and its continuing economic growth is gobbling up the remaining available land for commercial and residential development. At some point based just on current trends of increasing Hominin land use, most all arable land in the Nation will sooner or later be developed and the remaining wildlife depopulated from these lands.
The “precautionary principle” adopted by the UN Environmental Programme -- and which the Supreme Court has ruled to be the underlying principle of the Endangered Species Act – compels the Nation to consider the GME as the operating reality in the Nation and that its Climax will occur around 2100 AD. To stop or delay the Climax, protective efforts need to be done now to stop any further decline of the Nation’s vertebrate wildlife populations and their geographic ranges. This needs to be seen as true even if data has yet to be collected to prove that mass extinction is occurring. Unfortunately, the inexcusable failure to start by the 1990s any effort to inventory the Nation’s vertebrate wildlife in order to assess the threat of wildlife GME indicates a failure of will in its agencies and non-government organizations to stop its Climax. This failure of will must now be treated as a social fact and/or norm of the Nation’s society.
Conducting an annual inventory of the status of the Nation’s vertebrate wildlife populations is a requisite first step to insure the GME does not happen. It is compelled by the precautionary principle in order to gauge the necessity and cost to arrest, stop or delay the Climax. All further economic development and sanctioned population increase of the United States (i. e. immigration) requires an accurate assessment of their impact on wildlife populations and their range. To insure preventing GME, economic and population growth should not be allowed to proceed unless there will be no adverse impact by it on the Nation’s wildlife.
A wildlife inventory effort of sorts was started by the government in the 1990s but was quickly abandoned and not restarted to the present day. The ongoing failure by the Nation to have never implemented an effective inventory of its wildlife is also evidence of the Nation’s failure to challenge GME. This failure is likely deliberate.
Wildlife has little utilitarian value and endangered species basically none. The United States economy and Public health will not likely suffer if over eighty percent of its vertebrate wildlife species are extirpated. Some evidence for proof of such is that there has been a 60% decline in many wildlife populations across the board since 1970, yet most citizens barely notice that decline. The current contagion crisis caused by a wildlife originating virus illustrates a fair opinion that wildlife poses a significant risk to Public health and the economy.
All the environmental laws of the 1970’s and after are apparently not proving good enough to compel the Nation’s government agencies or EINGOS to already have made the needed commitment to effectively stop the GME of the Nation’s wildlife species. In part, this is due to a likely decision made at some point between 1995-2005 by the United States society and its governance that it would not stop the already perceived decline in wildlife in order to support an annually growing GDP and population.
These failings compel that a mass extinction Climax for the Nation’s vertebrate wildlife must be seen as inevitable absent truly revolutionary and disruptive change to the Nation.
Strahan, Richard Maximus, "Goodbye and Thanks for All the Fish: The Inevitable Mass Extinction of Vertebrate Wildlife in the United States by 2100 AD" (2020). Master's Theses and Capstones. 1356.