On law and societies in the “Anthropocene.”
While the earth’s homo sapiens populations grow exponentially by the day, scientists have been documenting an opposite trend with many nonhuman species. A 2014 Science article estimates that present rates of extinction “are about 1,000 times the likely background rate of extinction”—that is, 1,000 times greater than rates of extinction we might expect to see resulting from so-called natural causes. Indeed, the global Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and many parallel national lists have been documenting the disappearance of numerous species at astonishing rates. Accordingly, some have named the age we’re living in the “Anthropocene”—the age of Man—to indicate not only the enormous threat that humans currently impose on Earth’s nonhuman populations and ecosystems, but also our responsibility toward these other forms of life and matter.