the first extermination

are we equal to an asteroid?
we who travelled from the continent of Africa
to the hottest, coldest, furthest place all over our planet
we who evolved from ancestral hominids
to office managers
are we equal to an asteroid?
K-T, the fifth and fastest of all mass extinctions
these emissions a misfortune
nothing more than just bad luck
dinosaurs went extinct, we exterminate

extinction sounds without blame, we exterminate
passive, nothing that we could do, we exterminate
an accident
extermination, not extinction
the great dying the same
but with us to blame


In 2019, Justin McBrien from the University of Virginia, published an Op-Ed that climate change is not an extinction event but the first extermination (McBrien, 2019). In 2021, Professor James Hansen from Columbia University gave a speech in which he compared our current climate crisis with an incoming asteroid destined to hit Earth. This poem combines both perspectives and explores the implications of this first extermination.