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Re: Extinction-off topic



I have to agree with Bob on the artificial distinction between natural and
unnatural extinction is artificial and have been used in this debate as
emotive terms. I introduced them purely as a shorthand notation for human
induced as opposed to background extinction or extinction from other
causes. And, again, as has rightly been pointed out by many correspondants,
the distinction between the two is a grey area. But I am appaulled at the
ad absurdium argument induced by some that, because extinction is
inevitable for all species, then it doesn't really matter that humans are
sending thousands of species to an early grave. I would have thought that
people with an interest in the history of life would have had a more
intelegent approach to the matter. As for the fringe who expect us to all
be leaving for Mars or changing into computers, wonderful ideas, but this
is not the Monty Python discussion group. Even if these options were or do
become available to humanity, they offer an escape for only a few humans,
not to the whole species or, more importantly, to the millions of other
species on the face of the earth. To abdicate our responsibilities to the
world we live in on such whimsical pretences is complete stupidity.

To risk the rath of those who see me as the Crown Prince of the off-topic
by continuing this string may be a folly equal only to me wishing to spend
the rest of my existance as a space-travelling cyperperson. So, I am happy
to entertain further correspondance on this issue direct to my E-mail
address. But, my last three and a third cents on this (allowing for current
exchange rates), is that palaeontology has more to offer in an
understanding of our modern environments than simply telling Boogy stories
about extinction. We chronicle the history of life, we measure how
envrionments have developed and we observe what has happened to the
biosphere in the past. It is time that palaeontology, as a science, began
looking at more relevant applications of our studies to the modern world,
lest we also become extinct.

Cheers, Paul

pwillis@ozemail.com.au