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Media Type: Video
Date of Publication: June 4, 2016
Year of Publication: 2016
HEFFNER: I’m Alexander Heffner, your host on The Open Mind. Since its creation sixty years ago, this show has prized civility as its basic operating principle. If you think about the root of that word, its goal is the perpetuation of civilization, one President Kennedy articulated in 1963 that “We all inhabit this small planet, we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children’s future, and we’re all mortal.” Our guest today extends that royal we to the kingdom of animals and plants. Author of The Annihilation of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals, Mexican conservationist Gerardo Ceballos joins me to discuss his landmark study of accelerated human-induced species loss. His stunning finding: we’re entering the sixth great extinction of humanity. Wow. A scholar at Stanford University and the University of Mexico’s Institute of Ecology, Ceballos is credited with spearheading the first endangered species act of Mexico. “Humanity has unleashed a massive and escalating assault on all living things,” Ceballos writes, “potentially the worst ecological crisis since the asteroid hit that killed the dinosaurs.” Welcome, Gerardo.
CEBALLOS: Thank you very, very nice to be here.
HEFFNER: It’s a pleasure to have you here, especially because we recently had the President of your country, Ernesto Zedillo, on the show as well. Why are we oblivious to this gloom and doom scenario, or at least seemingly oblivious to it.
CEBALLOS:Well, it seem to me that, uh, humans, we are involved and understanding things that happening very immediately to ourselves, and the problem with the plants and animals that are becoming extinct is that many of them are living in remote areas, far away from our everyday, uh, living. So, that’s one of the problems. And there, there is another problem that I think is even more than that. There has been a lot of media, paid by big corporations and big, uh, interest groups, to deny the problem, and we, as scientists, have a really important responsibility. On the one hand, not to exaggerate what, uh, data is here. But other hand, to be extremely honest, to say what the data is telling us, and what it’s telling us right now is that we are really losing so many plants, so many animals, so fast that it is similar to the five previous extinctions on the, uh, history of life on Earth.
Read the complete transcript or watch the interview, here.