Falling Down the Time Shaft:
The Case of the Incredible
If we see a light at the end of the tunnel, It's the light of an oncoming train.
Robert Lowell 1
The Earth today is a shrinking island adrift in the sea of time. Maybe you find that sentence somewhat mystical for a science book. But it is not really mystical. It is thoroughly scientific. This chapter has the job of explaining it. In what scientific sense is the Earth shrinking? And what makes it an island adrift in time?
By saying “shrinking, ” I do not mean some added consequence of global warming! It's not as if the Earth were made of wool or cotton, and we returned to the galactic laundromat to find a pea-sized planet in its dryer. But, for most species, that might as well be the case. Most forms of life survive only in natural environments. And we are shrinking those environments pitilessly. We convert them—square mile after square mile—to our own purposes. Moreover, whatever we take for ourselves, we change so radically that almost none of the other species in the world can still live in it.
So far, we have taken over about 95 percent of the Earth's land surface and refashioned it according to our own specifications. Jeremy Jackson