Are We Part of the 6th Mass Extinction? – Insights from the Wilderness #238

6th Mass Extinction97% of the world’s environmental scientists are concerned that we are in the beginning of the 6th mass extinction. They are warning us that Nature is speaking to us, but we are not doing a good job of listening to her.

Current Trends Definitely Don’t Look Good For Our Planet

Our planet is struggling. The human life forms she created are currently killing off other living species in alarming numbers. As a result of our human impact on the planet, other living species are going extinct at rates not seen since the 5th mass extinction 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit earth. Third world hunger is at epidemic levels. Our planet’s weather is becoming more extreme every year. Floods and droughts are competing to see which can create the most suffering for the planet’s life forms. The ice is melting. The oceans are rising. The air and water are becoming ever more polluted. Temperatures are spiking. The forests are burning.

In the meantime, human life forms are increasingly using the primitive, fear-based, black and white thinking process of early childhood and adolescence, to argue about global climate intensification and deny that it is being caused by human behavior. Politicians and religious based conservatives from virtually every nation on the planet are convinced that their conservative beliefs represent absolute truth. They are convinced the scientists are wrong. Their rigid, ideological, primitive thinking is creating a never-ending level of conflict in our political systems around the world. Their insistent drum beat for more military action continues to fuel the planet’s 60-year experience of “never-ending war”.

Early Childhood and Adolescent Thinking Is Not The Answer

Humanity is clearly on the brink of maturity. But far too many of its members are continuing to use the arrogant, black and white thinking of childhood and adolescence. A stage of human consciousness in which persons are convinced they know everything and tend to be driven by a self-focused greed for personal power and wealth. This self-focused arrogance is reflected in the reality that many of the world’s political leaders are convinced they know more about environmental issues than 97% of the world’s environmental scientists. The very scientists who are urgently warning us that the environmental damage we are causing is threatening our planet’s fragile life support system.

Humanity is struggling to step into maturity and embrace the wisdom and humility that comes with life experience. Unfortunately, the belligerence attached to adolescent thinking is only making matters worse. This rigid adolescent belligerence and arrogance is evident in the extremist, black and white thinking used by so many of the politicians in our 2016 Presidential elections.

Nature’s Wisdom Can Show Us The Way Forward

Nature has 4.5 billion years of environmental wisdom for us if we are willing to listen to her. She is an ancient living, life creating, and life-sustaining system. Her wisdom always seeks balance, not perfection. For eons, Nature has been successfully using diversity, cooperation and mutual benefit between living systems to create new life forms. She has been perfecting this process for billions of years. It is her primary teaching. She is getting angry that we continue to ignore that teaching in our juvenile need to be “right” rather than wise.

The Human Body Is A Good Metaphor For Cooperation

The human body, which was created by nature, is a good example of how nature works. The human body is a living system made up of trillions of cells that cooperate with one another to make lungs, livers, hearts, and brains. The human body is alive and healthy because all of these individual cells and organs work together to mutually support one another. The human brain, our control center, works unnoticed to ensure that all of those cells and organs are getting the hydration, nutrition, and food that they need to survive. The human body is an excellent example or metaphor for the concept of cooperation among living systems.

It is also a very good metaphor for the maturation of our global human body; the “body” we call human civilization.

Trillions of cells come together to cooperate in the creation of our human organs; organs that in turn cooperate with one another to create each of us as individual human beings. In a similar way, 7 billion individual humans create the global “body” called our human civilization. And like the cells in our “human body”, the seven billion individual human “cells” that make up our global “human body” need know that their participation and cooperation in that global body is going to be mutually beneficial. They need to know that their care and contribution to the global “body” will be reciprocated.

Human civilization is not a thing. It is not a machine that can be manipulated and controlled. Like all life on our planet, human civilization is a continually evolving, organic, self-creating, living life form. And all of its seven billion individual members or “cells” need to mutually benefit from their participation in, contribution to, and cooperation with the global “body” called human civilization. When cooperative participation in that “global body” is no longer mutually beneficial, the global human “body” will quickly become unhealthy and eventually become part of the great 6th extinction of life forms on our planet.

Our global “body” is suffering from poor health. Human civilization is clearly running out of time to take the next evolutionary step into maturity and the intellectual integrity of a mature consciousness.

Civilization’s Evolutionary Step into Intellectual Integrity and True Maturity

Humanity is clearly a human culture poised on the brink of maturity. It has spent centuries as an adolescent culture exploring, inventing, creating new forms of government, language, art, and science. Humanity has the experience needed to take that next step into maturity and embrace the wisdom contained in all that experience. We need to ask ourselves the question—— are we wise enough to use the wisdom we’ve learned?

In a mature human civilization, its seven billion cells would use the more evolved form of consciousness called middlepath thinking. Middlepath thinking is a level of consciousness that always seeks the truths on both sides of any issue, and like nature, it always seek balance, compromise, and mutually beneficial cooperation to create the way forward. Middlepath thinking also embraces all of the diversity of ideas and concepts available as it searches for cooperation and the mutual benefit of its participants. It also rejects rigid, ideological thinking and openly welcomes intellectual integrity and the ability to change one’s mind when experience fails to conform to one’s beliefs. Stated differently, intellectual integrity is the ability to learn from one’s experience.


Like the cells in our human body, all of the individual people who are part of our global human civilization, need to embrace the 4.5 billion years of wisdom contained in nature’s great body of creative work. Unless every individual part of a living system both benefits from the larger living system they are part of, and contributes their gifts and wisdom to that larger living system that they depend on for survival——neither they, nor the larger body, will long survive. Without a cooperative relationship between the cells and the larger system, they depend on for survival both will die. Without a cooperative relationship between the individual human lives and the global human body they are part of, both will ultimately cease to exist.

Nature is clear in its teachings. Similar to the cells in a human body, every part of a living system receives from, and contributes to, the overall health of the system.

Human civilization is a living and continually evolving system. If it is to survive, its living planetary life support system must survive, and that requires that every individual that makes up our human civilization must also be cared for and nurtured.

The bottom line for any living system is the simple reality that every individual part of the system must be a mutually cooperating and contributing part of the system; this includes our human civilization. When the interdependent, mutually beneficial cooperation ends in a living system, nature is very clear. That living system will become extinct.

Our planet is a living, inter-dependent eco-culture that has 4.5 billion years of wisdom built into its success. And every successful species on our planet has, at some point in its journey toward sustainable life, successfully navigated its self-focused adolescent stage. It has successfully evolved its ability as a life form to participate in a state of true interdependent cooperation, or it became extinct.

There are no examples of a species that failed to learn the art of mutually beneficial cooperation and survived.


The human, self-aware lifeform experiment created by our planet 30 to 50 thousand years ago is rapidly running out of time to decide whether it is going to survive, or become part of the 6th mass extinction. Nature is not concerned with the extinction of a particular species. Like all previous extinction events, it may take a few hundred million years to repair the damage caused by the human life form experiment, but our living Earth will survive. Nature will continue to create new species for another 2 or 3 billion years. The only question that remains unanswered is whether humanity will be around to participate in the future unfolding creation story of our planet.

And of course, even our planet is but a cell in the living universe. So the time will come that it too will die and be recycled so the universe can continue to evolve and create more new life forms. The great story and adventure of our universe will continue.

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