One Cosmic Instant

Man’s Fleeting Supremacy

“Through our failure to acknowledge our oneness with the total of other populations of biological organisms in our ecosystems, we reveal the egocentricity which has brought the world environment to the point of crisis. Reluctance to face facts which may be ego-destructive is self-deception. We have gone so far in our self deception that the separation of man from his ecosystems has become even more than a deception. It has become an article of faith.” -John A. Livingston. 1973.

In One Cosmic Instant: Man’s Fleeting Supremacy, John A. Livingston describes how we are but one creature in the web of life dependent on the integrity of the whole, and that if for no other reason than his own survival, man must soon adopt an ethic toward the environment.

Livingston’s arguments that we must find new approaches to our perception of nature and our place within it or face the irreversibility of our destruction of nature now reads prophetically.

“One’s disillusionment with society’s treatment of non-human nature is built on a body of evidence which is conspicuous on every hand.

“Our attitude toward the non-human world is not immoral: it is amoral.”
Read One Cosmic Instant: Man’s Fleeting Supremacy, written in 1973.

We live amid a global wave of anthropogenically driven biodiversity loss: species and population extirpations and, critically, declines in local species abundance. Particularly, human impacts on animal biodiversity, until recently, have been an under-recognized form of global environmental change. Such catastrophic animal declines as we are experiencing today will cascade onto ecosystem functioning and human well-being. Much remains unknown about the “Anthropocene defaunation.” Our knowledge gaps hinder our capacity to predict and limit defaunation impacts. Clearly, however, defaunation is both a pervasive component of the planet’s sixth mass extinction and also a major driver of global ecological change.

Feature image: Andy Skillen Photography
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