The news is grave coming out of the recent United Nations report: A million animals on our planet are at risk of extinction due to human behavior. Many people inside the animal welfare world have been aware of the seriousness of the situation and sounding alarms for a number of years now. But seeing it all in one report is like a sucker punch to the stomach. The only good news to come out of the report is that there has been worldwide media coverage on the findings–hopefully inspiring the general public and especially political leaders to pass legislation to stop the human behaviors that have put so many creatures in harms way.
Some specifics from the report:
-1 million of the planet’s 8 million species of plants and animals are at risk of going extinct in the near future.
-The pace of species loss “is already tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years.”
-Scientists blame human activities that have led to loss of habitat, climate change, over-fishing, pollution and invasive species. More specifically:
- Turning forests, grasslands and other areas into farms, cities and other developments. The habitat loss leaves plants and animals homeless.
- Over-fishing the world’s oceans. A third of the world’s fish stocks are over-fished.
- Permitting climate change from the burning of fossil fuels to make it too hot, wet or dry for some species to survive.
- Polluting land and water.
- Allowing invasive species to crowd out native plants and animals.
Fortunately there is hope for turning things around–if we act quickly.
At the macro-level: Because human beings–and especially in industrialized nations, for profit corporations, have a demonstrated history of selfishly acting in their own best interest rather than the best interest of all creatures, it is imperative that legislation is passed to force corporations (and their stockholders and shareholders) to make choices that will benefit rather than harm the animals on the global doom list.
At the micro-level: Each of us has the responsibility and the ability to change our own behavior starting today. Some of the choices we can all make to speak for the animals who cannot speak for themselves include:
-When purchasing a home choose existing structures rather than new structures/developments.
-Make your voice heard at the local and state levels about limiting the permits given for building new developments in previous natural lands.
-Choose foods and products that are responsibly attained and produced with regard to the environment and animals.
-Actively limit unnecessary use of fossil fuels by walking, bicycling, ride-sharing and using public transportation where available.
-Openly speak up in work meetings about the need to utilize Work From Home (WFH)/telecommuting options for those jobs/positions in which it is practical to do so.
-Speak out in emails and conventional snail mail letters to retailers like Amazon and WalMart who use enormous amounts of fossil fuels in their delivery of goods about the need for immediate focus and change on behalf of saving the animals and the planet.
-Shop locally whenever possible.
-Speak out to your national and state elected officials via snail mail letters and emails about your concerns with continuing to do business as usual abroad with countries like China whose industries burn vast amounts of fossil fuels. Tell your elected officials about the need to pass legislation to turn things around.
-Choose products made inside your own country.
-Speak out to your state elected officials via snail mail letters and emails about your concerns about countries actively over-fishing.
-Write letters and emails to corporations demanding they act responsibly with regard to polluting the planet and animals’ homes.
-Stop buying plastic whenever possible. This includes micro-plastics in cosmetics, personal care products and ‘stretchy’ clothing.
-Stop littering and polluting the land and the water! Speak out when you see other people doing it. And when you see litter in natural settings–don’t just walk past it–pick it up and dispose of it properly.
-Stop consuming what you do not need!
-Start a recycling project at work. Even if your employer already has one established, it is easy for people to grow complacent. Educate your coworkers on why it is imperative that we recycle, recycle, recycle–both at work and in our personal lives.
-Demand those running for public office create a realistic plan for making the necessary changes as a country to reverse the serious problems facing the planet and its wildlife. (Examples: (1) Fracking does tremendous harm to the natural environment and animals’ homes, and is not a long-term solution; (2) Government officials need to stop the practice of legislating on behalf of corporations (including Big Ag) and their profits and focus on the planet as a whole.)
-Speak out on social media and keep speaking out. Educate the people in your life about the need to take immediate action at both the macro and micro levels to save the animals–explain to your family and friends that without them our own existence hangs in the balance.