Vanishing Earth, Vanishing Home: Eight Minus One

How would you feel if you knew that your savings/investment account would drop by 12.5% over the next few years and that it would never, ever recover? Would you try to change the future?

That’s what’s happening to all of the birds, the bees, the plants and the fishes in the ocean. One million out of the eight million species that exist now are vanishing. They won’t be here for our grandchildren or our greats to enjoy. A few of the recent extinctions include the West African Black Rhino, Pyrenean Ibex, Great Auk, Passenger Pigeon, and the master word for scrabble payers – the Quagga. All wiped out by us.

The report by the UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services was published on May 6, 2019. Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, it assesses changes over the past five decades and provides a comprehensive picture of the relationship between economic development and its impact on nature. The bottom line? “Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world.”

Should we care about what we are all doing to Mother Earth? From a purely selfish point of view, would we not like the next generations to see elephants in Africa, tigers in India or Mexico’s scarlet macaw? Tell your descendants not to hold their breath because those three and thousand of other species of living organisms are sliding towards extinction.

There are people who don’t care if they never see another hummingbird, fireflies at night amongst the trees or discover, with their grandchildren, wiggly things in a tidal pool on the beach. So, are eight million species better than seven? Do we care if we lose a million or so?

Well we should! A healthy biodiversity provides a number of natural services for everyone. A multitude of plants, insects, marine animals, birds, animals and reptiles keeps our planet together so that humans, the ultimate consumers, can live here. Ecosystems provide protection of water resources, soils formation and protection, nutrient storage and recycling. They break down and absorb pollution, contribute to climate stability and help the planet recover from natural disasters like forest fires and floods. The zillions of biological resources give us food, medicinal resources and pharmaceutical drugs, breeding stocks, population reservoirs and diversity in genes. Without biological diversity the planet dies.
Think of how agriculture has changed in the past seventy years. Food and fibre productivity has soared due to new technologies, mechanization, increased chemical use, specialization, and government policies that favoured maximizing production and reducing food prices. These changes have allowed fewer farmers to produce more food and fibre at lower prices.

Although these developments have had many positive effects and reduced some financial risks to farmers, they also have significant costs, including air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, the decline of family farms, neglect of the living and working conditions of farm labourers, new threats to human health and safety due to the spread of new pathogens, economic concentration in food and agricultural industries, and disintegration of rural communities. Maybe the worst one of all is the drainage of wetlands and the destructions of woodlands, which means the destruction of habitat for millions of birds, bees, insects and other species. Cheap food and huge profits may be good in the short term: in the long term they are killing us.

In Puerto Vallarta there are many examples of ways we are adding to the destruction of our part of the planet but, thankfully it’s not all bad news here. We have the Vallarta Botanical Gardens within a 30-minute bus ride that will restore your sense of well-being. It provides an unprecedented opportunity for anyone here to share the wonder of the vast diversity of Mexico’s plant species, dozens of species of birds and not a few insects. The VBG has assembled botanical collections in a safe environment with viewing trails and has built the most-visited public collection of orchids in all of Mexico. It’s a wonderful place to visit and to support. You can donate money, purchase a membership, or join the team as a volunteer. Donations help support its educational programs and environmental awareness in the community. If this planet has any hope of survival, education about the environment is vital and the VBG could use your help to do that.

Found in Mexico, Scarlet Macaw – Endangered

John Warren on Email
John Warren
John Warren is in charge of Publicity for the International Friendship Club (IFC). His articles describe the programs and charities that IFC supports, the sources of income of IFC and the social experiences, lectures and classes that members can enjoy.
He splits his time between Puerto Vallarta and Lethbridge, Alberta. In the winter months he writes for the IFC, this summer he’s focusing his writing on the environment.