By Larraine Roulston:
Beginning with the Industrial Revolution, we have witnessed a slow but steady decline of our life-giving planet. Until recently the descent as been gradual; however, at no other time in history has the destruction of biodiversity been as rapid as it has been during the past 30 years.
A recent alarming report from the United Nations revealed that one million animals and plants are now threatened. This report by seven lead co-authors from various worldwide universities demonstrates that an increasing number of species are facing extinction.
As the climate has been dramatically warming due to human behavior, these authors urge governments around the globe to take immediate action to address the climate change crisis causing such dramatic plant and animal habitat loss. Species are able to adapt when changes develop slowly: the alarming rate at which climate change is unfolding nowis what worries scientists.
To satisfy worldwide demand, humans extract 60 billion tons of resources from nature — which is unsustainable. This report emphasizes how the human population is affecting animals, insects, sea life, as well as land and water, which are essential for our survival. British chemist, Robert Watson, who chaired the panel, reports that the decline in biodiversity is rapidly eroding “the foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
With a temperature rise of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the warming climate affects the oceans’ ecosystems. Dying coral reefs could result in the collapse of indigenous and commercial fisheries. This would impact coastal residents who depend on protein from seafood. “Once you get to basically 2 degrees Celsius, the models show that only 1 percent can survive.” Watson added, “Let’s be quite candid. We’re not on the pathway to 2 degrees Celsius. We’re on a pathway to 3, 3½ degrees Celsius. The coral system is truly in trouble.”
The report states that “More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75 percent of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.” Pesticides used by farmers eliminate the beneficial pollinators. We have introduced invasive species that have had devastating effects to other countriesaround the world. Travelers who explore foreign forests have returned with microbes that are deadly to local animals. One example is the white nose fungus, which has eliminated millions of bats. Residents, too, in their efforts to kill mosquitoes and black flies, also contribute to the problem by using “bug zappers.”
Watson concludes, “Since 1992, we’ve been telling the world we have a problem. Now what’s different? It’s much worse today than it was in 1992. We’ve wasted all of the time . . . the last 25 years.” However, he continues, “We have a much better understanding of the links between climate change, biodiversity, food security and water security.”
Deforestation is the result of our increasing demand for wood and paper products and agriculture land, as well as the cosmetics industry’s desire for palm oil to make their products smooth and silky. Our air is affected by factory, airplane and vehicle emissions. Mine tailings and nuclear waste continue to accumulate. We call ourselves “consumers”; whatever happened to the words “citizens” and “residents”?
We still have time to affect change if the developing andthird-world nations work in unison. Citizens as well must realize that their everyday choices and habits make a difference.
Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure books on composting and pollinating. Please visit, www.castlecompost.com