There’s been some dispute in scientific circles about whether the woolly mammoths died out because of natural variations in climate, or because of the malign influence of roving bands of humans. Turns out it’s a little from column A, a little from column B — meaning that if we actually do manage to clone a mammoth, it’ll probably kick off instantly due to a combination of humans, climate change, and human-caused climate change.
Previously, scientists had blamed extinction of megafauna (i.e. big damn animals) on climate in cases where that seemed to be a bigger factor, and on humans when it looked like it was probably their fault, But a meta-analysis by researchers from the University of Cambridge indicates that it was the combination of human activity and climate alteration that contributed to the extinctions worldwide.
“What they found makes sense,” says mammalian paleoecologist Anthony Barnosky of the University of California, Berkeley. “It makes a clear case for there being an interaction. It shows what happens when two bad things happen at once.” Barnosky and environmental scientist Barry Brook of the University of Adelaide in Australia have found such a human-climate synergy operating in megafaunal extinctions when severe climate change coincided with human arrivals. A similar synergy is happening today, they say, as global warming intensifies and the human population continues to grow.
Not a shock, but just another reminder that humans have long been responsible for most of the bad shit that goes down on Earth. Good job guys.