Vatican Workshop on Biological Extinction

Here's something I never thought I'd see. My friend Paul Ehrlich was invited to the Vatican to discuss "how to save the natural world on which we depend." The workshop will take place on 27 February through 1 March, 2017. This interests me because Paul endorsed my eco-thriller Patriarch Run, in which the bad guy intends to take down the power grid in order to stop the Sixth Extinction. I'm glad the bad guy in the story is fictional because I hope there's a better way to deal with this pressing problem.

You can learn more about the Vatican's Biological Extinction workshop here.

How encouraging it is to know that an institution as important as the Vatican is taking this issue on. Historically speaking, the more people there are on the planet, the harder it has been for other creatures. In my lifetime the human population has doubled. With 7.5 billion people now alive on Earth, it's getting much harder to meet human needs without doing biological harm. The continued increase of the human population is a recipe for disaster, not only for other species, but for ourselves, as well.

The Vatican put it this way:

At the time crops became important elements for human survival, 10,000 years ago, the entire world population is estimated to have been about one million people, with about 100,000 in there are 7.3 billion...It is obvious that many of the kinds of organisms that occurred 10,000 years ago have already gone extinct...We are now profoundly damaging the conditions under which our numbers have increased from about 1 million to about 7.3 billion people, with a net of 250,000 extra people every day (
Global Footprint Network ( carefully measures our consumption of all aspects of the world’s sustainable productivity, and has calculated that in about 1970 we were using about 70% of the Earth’s sustainable capacity, and now that we are using about 156%. Nevertheless there are 800 million people chronically malnourished and 100 million on the verge of starvation at any one time.

This next paragraph is poorly translated, but it is still comprehensible:

Among the changes that are detrimental to the continued existence of biodiversity are the clearing of land for agriculture and urban development; the introduction of alien species, including weeds, pests, and pathogens worldwide, for the last 500 years, at a dizzying rate; hunting and gathering animals and plants at an unsustainable rate for consumption, building materials, or as medicine; and global climate change. The subject of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ (biodiversity especially its Chapter 2), climate change, is estimated in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to be on a course to destroy 20-40% of all biodiversity on Earth by the end of this century regardless of any other factors, but of course interacting with them. The living fabric of the world, which we are enjoyed in Genesis, Chapter II to protect, is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring.

Benjamin Dancer

Benjamin is the author of the literary thriller Patriarch Run, the first book in a series that will include Fidelityand The Story of the Boy. He also writes about parenting, education, sustainability and national security.

Benjamin works as an Advisor at a Colorado high school where he has made a career out of mentoring young people as they come of age. His work with adolescents has informed his stories, which are typically themed around fatherhood and coming-of-age.

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