During the Pleistocene age, when man emerged on the scene, biosphere was extremely rich and diverse. This was not to last. With man came over-hunting, over-fishing, and over-populating, resulting in the driving of innumerable species to extinction. Fertile land was reduced to desert, as happened in the mesopatamian valley, and species after species driven to extinction through hunting or habitat destruction. We are presently witnessing a biocide of incomprehensible proportions, as the oceans are overfished, the jungles chopped down, and the last stands of rainforest cleared for farmland or beef cattle. There is a myth that this is only a failing of modern technological man, who is alienated from nature, and not of those tribal peoples who live in "harmony" with their environment. This falacy can be shown up simply by noting that whenever in the past man has migrated into new territories, the local fauna beomes extinct, a process that began with the "stone age overkill" of the late Pleistocene. So called "primitive" cultures therefore are just as guilty of this as modern ones, the Roussean myth of the "noble savage" notwithstanding. This is indicated even now by the custodians of such cutures demanding (and being given) traditional hunting rights of endangered species, but with modern rifles and motor vehicles mind you! Traditional tribal or modern capitalist, it seems to make no difference, man is ensuring the destruction of the biosphere.
Tragically, it seems that Nature is coming to an end, at least for the present, and that it is the human species that is the cause. Man's dominance of the planet and misuse of technology has already driven countless thousands of species to extinction, and we will most likely see in our lifetimes the destruction of the last stands of rainforest, coral reef etc (whether through wilfull greed or simply pollution and other unavoidable factors), and with them, millions of species, most unknown to science. The only species that will survive will be those that can adapt to and flourish in man's polluted environments.
The Phanerozoic eon therefore can be said to have lasted until the late Pleistocene epoch, being replaced by the Noospheric eon. In terms of sequence in cosmic history, the Phanerozoic or mature biosphere is that period between the immature unicelluar prokaryote-protistan biosphere of the Precambrian and the immature and nascent mature noosphere of the present human age and future Technozoic era.
Let's get one thing clear at the start. Pending the singularity, the human race is Extinction Proof, as Peter Ward has correctly observed in his book Future Evolution. Since the emergence of our kind on the Pleistocene savannahs, we have seen out, and seen to, the extinction of numerous species. This process of extinction is currently increasing at an exponential rate, as increasing human population and needs enroach upon and tear up the last remaining natural environments. The animals have nowhere to go. Their best hope is in zoos, game reserves and national parks. Plants are if anything more threatened. And as for microorganisms, how to identify and culture them, preserving them from extinction. The world we inhabit is becoming increasingly destitute of species. But we, the adaptable human race, who thanks to our all too successful Darwinian conditioning put ourselves first always, will survive. Unless some new species of posthuman evolves from us and suplants us the way we have supplanted the rest of biosphere
It is the end of nature as we know her, but also the beginning of a new nature, a new assortment of organisms that are able to co-exist with humanity, as our pets, our parasites, for food or legal or illegal drugs, as scavengers and opportunists and weeds in the suburbanised, monoculturalised world we have created.
Peter Ward is one of the very few who talks about this, in his provocative book (right), now out of print (see "Future Evolution" by Peter Ward - Salon for more info)
But perhaps even the above is a highly optimistic scenario. In any case, the future is not about whether or not we will exist. It is about what sort of world we will create for ourselves and what remains of the biosphere. Which will also determine what the new biosphere that apperas from this latest mass extiunction will be like. And what will be the spiritual role for this world in the Cosmos. Will the Earth of the future be a center of cosmic spiritual transformation, or a spiritual black hole roaming through the cosmos, what Rudolf Steiner calls the "Eighth Sphere" (need to add ref.). Or neither? It remains to be seen. If one is an optimist, then the positive will prevail. According to The Mother, the new world is certain (Agenda, need to find refs.). This despite all appearance s to the contrary. So here are some initiatives, and some comments.