Extinctions tend not to announce themselves as events until they have happened. Even now, when the animal and plant-life of Earth is constantly tracked, categorised, hunted and protected, most of the world go day to day without any thought to the species’ dying out. Of course, it’s only natural for people to make vague such issues: extinctions, global warming, gun crime, the richest one percent. They are problems on a scale outside of the everyday, even though they play a part in the everyday. When a variation of the butterfly dies out, it suffers from both the huge scale, and the disconnect between modern life and the natural world. If 100,000 of these butterflies are dying off each year, the number is too large to feel anything personal or specific, while at the same time, those butterflies were not noticed by most in the first place. Still: to cause that much death and carry on without a second thought.
Given this general attitude towards the subject, it makes sense for Sean Gallagher to set up the Everyday Extinction Instagram page. It is, in essence, an awareness campaign, a regular slap to the forehead that yes, this is still happening all over the world. The fare is what you’d expect: beautiful shots of the life we’re losing; a rhino, its horn cut away by poachers. The damage done to a forest in Haida Gwaii for the timber. ‘About half of the timber harvested in this part of the world is irreplaceable old-growth.’ Of all the scenes found in nature, the forests perhaps take the hardest beating, because we seem to think that trees, as symbols of time and age, are endless. For some reason, humanity have an idea of trees that they are guardians, that they silently nourish us because they love us. Trees do not love us, and even if they did possess an ability to have an opinion of us, there is no reason to believe it would a kind one.
Ownership is where we are at fault: as a species, as the species, have come to a conclusion that Earth is ours, and therefore everything onboard is ours too. With the power granted to us by our intellects and our Bibles, we claim ownership of every ecosystem we discover. Everyday Extinctions demonstrates to the social media generation just how we treat those systems. The project is clinical, it is informative, the photographs are clean and striking. What Everyday Extinctions reminds you of is an incredibly modern school textbook, providing us, the naïve, with the undeniable, educative proof of the scars ‘our’ Earth is showing.