“For the first time in history, humans are now poised to destroy prospects for decent existence and much of life.”

So says Noam Chomsky at this 10th Annual Pen World of Voices Festival this April, as he succinctly describes the grim options facing our species as we dance along the edge of our self-made environmental precipice.  It’s a sobering commentary and a reminder of the price we pay for living in what geologists now informally call the Anthropocene Period, or the era in which human activity is changing the natural environment on a never before seen planetary scale.  Our activities so intense, we are achieving environmental changes at rates that would leave previous geological epochs marvelling in our dust.  Literally.

It does make one wonder, given all we now know about the effects of human activities on the environment, why we continue to do what we do.  We can only hope that evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr was merely doing his best George Carlin impression in responding to questions about the future of our species with the following conclusion: that human intelligence, as it turns out, is a lethal mutation.