Alas, time’s up for the Christmas Island pipistrelle bat.
The tiny winged mammals, endemic to Australia’s Christmas island, are overrun by human-introduced yellow crazy ants, giant centipedes and wolf snakes. Earlier this year their extinction was predicted by government scientists, and a last-ditch effort to capture individuals to attempt to establish a captive breeding population has failed. Peter Garrett, ex-Midnight Oil singer and now Australia’s environment minister, pledges further efforts to preserve the miniscule beasts, but acknowledges that the underlying reason for the bat’s precipitous decline and probable extinction is the pulverized ecology of the island itself.
All over the world, species introduced by humans to environments where they have no ecological restraints are devastating ecological communities. From Leidy’s comb jellies in the Black and now Caspian seas, to brown tree snakes on Guam, the ruthless intermixing of species brought about by human global domination is sterilizing much of the planet, reducing complex webs of interaction to stripped-down faunal deserts, as full of life and diversity as a Pong game. There is, of course, really only one invading species; the one that made all this possible, the one that has been burning through the life of this planet since it left Africa. No cultural distinctions or political ideologies can alter the harsh truth that we humans are the sixth mass extinction event, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t think our way out of a biological problem. We are going to ruthlessly despoil this planet to an even greater degree than we’ve already accomplished, and then drown in the juices of our Pyrrhic triumph. All the while we’ll be telling ourselves that it’s important to have hope.