The way we should be going about saving nature is by putting a stop to the ecocide.
In every ecosystem, living creatures, including humans, form communities, interacting with one another and with the air, water, and soil around them. Land and marine animals and plants, including trees, are also creatures forming communities and behaving according to their social order. This is similar to human society in that all creatures strive to survive, thrive and reproduce and work towards these objectives on a daily basis.
Wetland area – Saving Nature
Ecosystems are self-organising living systems that exist in homeostasis, or dynamic balance, and are life-giving collaborative enterprises. This is the supremely elegant and amazingly complex environment that modern humans were born into. We never really understood any of it. Human intellect only takes us to a point beyond which understanding comes from a totally different place.
The devastation we have caused in nature is all but complete. The WWF Living Planet Report 2020 points out that since 1970, our Ecological Footprint has exceeded the Earth’s ability to repair and regenerate ecosystems and species, by a long shot. This ongoing and exponentially increasing overshoot has degraded and continues to damage the planet’s health and, with it, critically impair humanity’s prospects of survival.
Freshwater biodiversity is falling steeply. Around 90% of global wetlands have been lost since 1700. Millions of kilometres of rivers have been altered by human activity.
In 2016 there were only 16% of the mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fishes left that inhabited the wild freshwater habitats in 1970. Freshwater megafauna (more than 30kg) such as sturgeon, Mekong giant catfish, river dolphins, otters, beavers and hippos are threatened. When it comes to overkilling by people, the biggest go first. River dams have also had a devastating effect on large fish as these block migratory routes to spawning and feeding grounds. We not only overkill these animals, we also make it impossible for them to feed or reproduce.
A barren soil landscape – Saving Nature
Soil biodiversity is a critical component of the natural environment and it plays a vital role in the ecosystems on which we depend to survive. “Soil hosts one of the largest reservoirs of biodiversity on Earth: up to 90% of living organisms in land ecosystems spend part of their life cycle in soil habitats” These myriad soil organisms underpin our life on this planet. Without soil biodiversity, land ecosystems would collapse.
There is evidence of recent, rapid declines in insect abundance and diversity. In Western Europe and North America, insect monitoring schemes and long-term studies show startlingly rapid, recent and ongoing declines in insect numbers and distributions. Given that the spread of intensive agriculture occurred earlier in Western Europe and North America, the insect losses observed in the Western world provide a forecast of what will happen globally if human disturbance and destruction of wild habitats continue worldwide.
Plant diversity is also in serious decline. The report warns that “Plants are the structural and ecological foundation of virtually all terrestrial ecosystems and provide fundamental support for life on Earth. They are vital to human health, food and well-being.”
The number of known plant extinctions is twice as many as for mammals, birds and amphibians combined. Moreover one in five of the remaining plant species are threatened with extinction, most of them located in tropical areas. We are also losing as yet undiscovered plant species. The value of these losses to humanity is incalculable.
Clearing agricultural land for human infrastructure in Malta – Saving Nature
The concentration of human populations in towns and cities and the globalisation of trade has created a situation where the severe environmental degradation in one part of the planet is caused by human demand in another part, since resources are not consumed at the point of extraction. The truth is that the consumption patterns in developed countries are also directly contributing to the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth.
The answer does not lie so much in what we can do fix this but rather in what we need to stop doing. We need to stop killing wildlife, stop overfishing, stop destroying wild habitats, stop polluting our water, air and soils, stop waste, reduce dramatically meat-based diets, stop acting as if consequences did not matter, stop using fossil fuel and its derivatives such as plastic and stop electromagnetic radiation. Stop the ecocide.
ECOCIDE IS A CHOICE – YOUR CHOICE
This article was published in the Senior Times of the Times of Malta on the 23rd April 2021
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