Well, I’ll be honest. The health of our planet isn’t looking too good. If the planet were a person going in for her annual physical, the doctor wouldn’t have good news. In fact, the doctor would be very concerned.
With the rapid decline of coral reefs, the overfishing of our oceans, the conversion of rainforests to monoculture plantations, and the extensive habitat loss due to uncontrolled development, nature is being decimated at an average rate of ten to hundreds of times faster than the last 10 million years. Human society is in imminent danger due to this drastic decline of Earth’s natural ecosystems.
With massive increases in population, the economy and greater demand for energy and materials, humans have been extracting more from the planet and producing more waste in the last 50 years than over the entire course of human history.
In a recent report, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)—a team of over 450 scientists and diplomats—assessed the health of the planet’s ecosystems... and well, the outlook isn’t so uplifting:
All of these massive human-induced changes to the environment are having HUGE consequences for the health of our planet and our own health. The loss of biodiversity can permanently reduce future options for food, medicine, water and shelter. While scientists have created some substitutes for food, medicine, and water purification, many are imperfect, costly and will not deliver the same benefits as nature. Similarly, human-built infrastructure for storms or flooding are just not as good as nature’s defenses, such as mangroves, forests and coral reefs, which also provide synergistic benefits such as habitat for juvenile edible fish, recreational opportunities, and more.
“The health of ecosystems on which we and other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundation of economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide. We have lost time. We must act now.”
-Robert Watson, Chair of the IPBES
I realize this is all terribly depressing, but don’t panic! That’s not what we need — sure, being concerned is valid, but falling into despair isn’t going to get us anywhere. There are a lot of little things you can do in your everyday life to help chip away at some of global challenges. If you haven’t checked it out already, have a read through my blog about How to Protect the Outdoors and Wildlife. In that blog, there’s a lot I have to say about what you can do to help be a part of the solution.
Vote! Don’t ever think that political participation is a waste of time. Vote for politicians who support environmental protection. Make your voice heard and express your concerns to your local, state, and federal government.
Unfortunately, we are placing lots of stress on our planet’s resources like never before. However, it is possible to conserve, restore and use nature sustainably, while meeting our needs for energy, food and other material goods. We just have to be smarter about it! What is required is a concerted effort across sectors—government, businesses, non-profit organizations, and the general public—to foster transformative change.