According to the most recent U.N. findings, extinction is looming for more than one million species within just a few decades, if nothing is done to reverse current trends.
There are five major human activities that contribute to this bleak outlook: turning forests and grasslands into developments; overfishing the world’s oceans; augmenting climate change by the continued burning of fossil fuel; polluting land and water; and allowing invasive species to displace or eliminate native plants and animals.
Combined, these interventions by man have resulted in “species loss that is accelerating at a rate tens or hundreds of times faster than at any time in the past.”
Here are some headlines that have appeared since the U.N. published its report: “Plastic pollution sinks deeper into ocean,” “Near-record ‘dead zone’ forecast in Gulf of Mexico,” and ”Global warming is shrinking glaciers faster than thought.”
Also, this one, “Climate change is visible in 10 places: Galapagos islands, Dead Sea, Venice, Fairbanks, Alaska, Antarctic peninsula, Greensburg, Kansas, Acadia National Park, the Alps, Florida Keys, and Glacier National Park.”
In addition, the National Geographic special, “Hostile Planet,” concludes that for species survival, “The stakes are very high;” “Gray whales are dying at a record pace,” and from Paris, “Action sought after 1,100 dead dolphins turn up.”
Dolphins are among the most beloved and intelligent species on the planet. The bodies of these beautiful mammals were horribly mutilated and hacked to pieces. This murderous slaughter was directly attributed to commercial fishing. The animals are chopped up to get them out of the boats’ mammoth nets.
“What shocked French researchers wasn’t just the brutality of the deaths, but the numbers involved,” the report said.
The extent of this tragedy has no precedent.
So far this year, more than 70 gray whales have have been found stranded up and down the West Coast, more than twice the highest previous “mortality event.”
Between three and four hundred million tons of heavy metals, solvents and toxic sludge are dumped into the world’s oceans and waterways every year.
Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium have discovered that there is up to four times as much plastic in the ocean’s depths than at its surface, an amount even greater than that swirling cesspit called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
The region of oxygen-depleted water off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas, called the “Dead Zone,” where sea life cannot survive, is expected to reach roughly the size of New Hampshire. Approaching almost twice the average of 5,300 square miles.
Glaciers are losing 369 billion tons of snow and ice each year — more than 18 percent faster than predicted. Since 1961, the world has lost 10.6 trillion tons of ice, enough to cover the lower 48 states to a depth of about four feet.
Just consider the impact of these human activities on our planet. Last year the auto industry reported sales of nearly 15 million units. And each car requires an average of 13,000 parts. Multiply the one by the other and then break it down for aluminum, steel, glass, rubber and chemicals. Reminding yourself, that these millions of tons of raw materials are for just one year’s production.
Foxconn estimates it will need 7 million gallons of water, per day, to facilitate its manufacturing process. That’s 210 million gallons per month and over 2.5 billion each year. In violation of the Great Lakes Compact and International Law.
Name another country that can boast a convertible for sale with 750 HP and an amphibious RV at $800,000 per copy.
According to National Geographic, 618,000 gallons of water is required to raise a beef calf from birth to the grocer’s meat case. McDonald’s, anyone?
Here’s a short quiz to help you understand how serious our plight is. On your morning commute, how many wind-swept dunes, rock-strewn trails, snowy mountain passes and raging jungle rivers do you encounter? If the answer is “None,” then why are you driving that grotesque over-sized vehicle with the seven-year loan?
And about those million species in danger of becoming extinct by 2050, when the world’s population is estimated to soar to more than 10 billion, the reader will want to remember this: We’re on the list.
Ammon, a longtime lakes area resident, has written a book entitled “State of the Union: Observations on American Life.”