Humanity keeps racing toward destruction beyond the coronavirus pandemic, recent reports say.
The globe's sixth mass extinction rushes forward unabated, according to a recent report from the National Academy of Sciences. The study focused on the alarming loss of vertebrates as their habitat is destroyed by human development. The species extinctions threaten human life, the report warns.
"The ongoing sixth mass extinction may be the most serious environmental threat to the persistence of civilization, because it is irreversible," the study said.
"Thousands of populations of critically endangered vertebrate animal species have been lost in a century, indicating that the sixth mass extinction is human caused and accelerating. The acceleration of the extinction crisis is certain because of the still fast growth in human numbers and consumption rates"
Climate change is also bearing down, another report found.
Carbon dioxide levels in May rose to their highest level in human history, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego announced last week.
The amount of carbon in the atmosphere rose to a once unfathomable 417 parts per million, as recorded in May by the Mauna Loa Observatory in the Pacific. That's the highest atmospheric level of CO2 in millions of years, the report noted. The world breached the ominous threshold of 400 parts per million in 2014.
Carbon emissions have declined during the pandemic economic shutdown, but not enough to change the amount in the atmosphere.
"The rate of increase during 2020 does not appear to reflect reduction in pollution emissions due to the sharp, worldwide economic slowdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic," the report found. "The reason is that the drop in emissions would need to be large enough to stand out from natural CO2 variability, caused by how plants and soils respond to seasonal and annual variations of temperature, humidity, soil moisture, etc.
"These natural variations are large, and so far the emissions reductions associated with COVID19 do not stand out. If emissions reductions of 20 to 30 percent were sustained for six to 12 months, then the rate of increase of CO2 measured at Mauna Loa would be slowed."
With the United States and the world reopening their economies, emissions will again climb. There are no ventilators for the world.
As scientists sounded their alarm. the Trump administration carried out another assault on environmental laws. Using the coronavirus as a pretext, Trump issued an executive order to halt environmental impact statements for pipelines, highways and other infrastructure projects. Such assessments are the hallmark of the Environmental Policy Act signed by Richard Nixon 50 years ago.
Trump might love Nixon's law and order tactics. But he hates the GOP president's groundbreaking environmental legislation as much as he does Obama's programs.