The first time someone discovered fire, it wasn't us, and it wiped out almost all life on Earth. The cyanobacteria
figured out how to harness the power of the sun, which allowed them to live faster and better than their anaerobic competitors. The cyanobacteria took in carbon dioxide and farted out oxygen. They farted so much oxygen that they obliterated the biosphere in a cataclysm that makes the Great Dying look like a scraped knee. The Farting Oxygen Event
is the biggest extinction, but rarely counted as such. Only a few anaerobes survived, those that found refuges to protect them against the miasma of deadly oxygen.
To us, oxygen is the stuff of life. Almost everything around us -- all the stuff we commonly think of as "the biosphere" -- exists because of that lethal discovery. Every time the biosphere gets whacked down, it comes back with something bigger and better, like an artist who's had way too much espresso and probably also a few joints of weed considering the platypus.
Humans are causing the Anthropocene Extinction
. This sucks, in the sense of losing so much of our favorite wildlife. We should do what we can to stop having all the impact of a comet smacking into the planet. But we're not the first species to destroy the biosphere, and in fact, we haven't even come close to touching that record. We've just made a big mess.
But it's okay too, because every time the slate gets wiped mostly clean, Gaia paints something even more spectacular on it. Imagine her with 6 paintbrushes pinning up her long green hair, and a cup that says PAINT WATER beside one that says COFFEE. Because evolution is like watercolor: no matter what happens, it's going to be fascinating to find out.