Maybe all of us, whether guided by God or by science, secretly want to be the ones living in the end times, as though it bestows some epic importance upon our little lives. But what if there is no ultimate annihilation, but instead a million daily deaths, literal or figurative, that no one quite notices? The vultures’ disappearance is catastrophic, yes, but the ability to adapt is stunning. Or terrifying. Or both. No matter how bad things get, how many species get wiped from the earth in humanity’s steady march of population and progress, the living go on. Those species that disappear are erased from the bio-narrative of the planet and forgotten within a generation that only knows of what came before through chance encounters at museum exhibits, a grandmother’s knee, or a picture on a computer screen. Already, there are children turning into teenagers in India who have never seen a vulture, though their parents knew skies filled with swirling kettles of the scavengers for most of their lives. With the vultures becoming functionally extinct in under a decade, India’s ecology has shifted and the habits of her people, whether farmers or skinners or Parsi priests, have yielded in transition. What if we adapt too easily?
Mat Collishaw, artist, in the Sunday Times (UK):
We were brought up as ChrisWe'd read the Bible every night and I was always struck by its apocalyptic visions, like the four horsemen in Revelations...To some extent I think human beings have always thrived on a sense of Armageddon.
Lucky thing we were downgraded. Wouldn't want to miss the excitement.