Fact: We are Facing the Greatest Mass Extinction since the Dinosaurs
Images from WWF Report 2016 on Living Planet
No this isn’t fear-mongering. And this isn’t click-bait. We humans are driving this planet to mass extinction. Fact. The Anthropocene era is here and we are standing on the precipice of complete and utter obliteration of the natural world. According to the latest WWF Living Planet Report 2016 , since 1970 we have seen a 58% decrease in wildlife abundance. Also, we have heard some claims that we are losing species at up to 200 a day. This should alarm us all.
Unsurprisingly, despite a lot of finger pointing at developing nations, the average ecological footprint of consumption is still highest in the “developed” nations. ( see the dark purple and dark pink areas below from the report ) We are consuming ourselves to death. Human activities and more importantly human resource use which allowed us to “grow” so quickly – are causing the environment to fail. It seems that we forgot about equilibrium. It also seems we let hubris rule the day. Did we really think that we could keeping taking from nature without consequences?
Now for the Good News – Transition is Possible
Transition is still possible, but the time is now. Mass extinction doesn’t have to happen. Indeed, we can stop it and restore the land. So, we have to develop and – most importantly- implement strategic plans, economic models, business models, and healthy lifestyles based on the fact that we live on a finite planet. We simply cannot continue “business as usual”. As this Living Planet Report 2016 states
” A shared understanding of the link between humanity and nature could induce a profound change that will allow all life to thrive in the Anthropocene”
Key to this transition is awareness about the link between humanity and nature, the interdependence of living organisms, the importance of saving endangered species, the importance of nutrient dense soil, the need for fresh air and water, and the urgency to move away from heavy polluters and fossil fuels. Education and empowerment are both core to all of this.
Change or Mass Extinction – The Choice is Ours
So what does this change look like? Well, it looks like personal responsibility. Educate yourself, share knowledge, make informed decisions, do better. And understand that WE ARE THE CHANGE that we have been waiting for. We can’t wait for someone else to do something – a politician, a corporation, a “leader”, a role model, a hollywood movie star, or whoever. It is up to each one of us to play our part, whatever that may be. If you don’t already know, perhaps ask yourself what your part could look like. What would you do if time and resource was not an issue? And find a way. Here at the Save the Earth Cooperative our mission is to empower people to make change because without it, we are all facing extinction.
The Biggest Impending Threats
Let’s not sugarcoat the situation. The biggest threat to our beloved home planet is habitat loss and degradation. Why? Well, according to this latest report the main threats are are unsustainable agriculture (by this they mean, presumably mono-culture and industrialized farming), logging – illegal or otherwise, transportation, residential or commercial development, fossil fuel and other non-renewable energy production methods, and, lastly, mining. For freshwater habitats, dams cutting off rivers and streams, and water abstraction for commercial or domestic usage are the most prevalent threats.
The average person reading this might be thinking – “But what can I do to reverse this trend?” The answer is – PLENTY.
Here are a few ideas (but not exhaustive, naturally):
Mass Extinction Prevention
- Research the companies that you buy from. Are they contributing massively to land degradation and habitat loss? By buying from them, you are encouraging them to continue. Voting with your feet and your dollars/ pounds/ euros etc is one of the most powerful things you can do.
- Support your local organic producers- their produce is both better for your health and for the planet. Pesticides and herbicides destroy the soil, destroy the living organisms, and adversely affect the local ecosystem. When you kill bugs, you kill birds, for example.
- Following on from suggestion 2, learn and share your knowledge about biodiversity and how everything is connected. In the age of information, ignorance really is a choice.
- Divest as much as is feasible from fossil fuels. Switch to a green energy supplier. Petition your local MP and sign petitions that call for greater investment in clean energy. The only way the fossil fuel industry can continue, is if we keep using it. Cleaner, green energies are waiting in the wings
- Support local biodiversity initiatives and plant trees and plants on your property that encourage wildlife.
- Grow food, not lawns. This way you are not dependent on supermarkets, many of whom directly or indirectly sustain the practice of mono-agriculture. This practice encourages competitors to engage in a race to the bottom on price. By growing your own produce, you may actually be helping local farmers as they can switch to more sustainable farming practices.
- Be aware of where your food comes from. Think about the effect of over fishing has on the ecosystem of our waterways. Is it really worth collapsing the ecosystem so that we can have a certain species of fish on our plates?
- Do you really need a new TV/ Car/ Dress/ Handbag? Or are you stuck in a cycle of consumption? If you are replacing your consumer goods on a regular basis, perhaps it’s time to invest in items that will go the distance. Think about longevity when you buy new products. If it’s going to landfill next year, you are directly compounding the problem.
- Support companies, individuals, and models that challenge the status quo – we have to embrace change and go into the unknown. Courage is required if we want to find workable solutions to old and life-threatening patterns of behaviour.
- Start your own initiative to help restore the land to its brilliant and perfect state. When you work with nature, rather than against it, she works for you. There is plenty of evidence that using permaculture techniques, for example, can produce higher yields as compared to regular growing. AND there is the added benefit that it encourages wildlife and diversity into your garden or plot. Research regenerative science and regenerative agriculture.
- Most of all, use your creative power to change the world.
Of course habitat loss and degradation are not the only threat. The others cited in the Living Planet Report are: species over-exploitation, pollution, invasive species and disease, and climate change. Click here to read the summary report on the impending threat of mass extinction