The Health of Our Planet and What You Can Do About It

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:

  • The expanse of natural ecosystems has been reduced to nearly half of what it once was
  • Half of the world’s live coral reef areas have been lost since 1870
  • 25% of species globally are threatened with extinction
  • Roughly 60 billion tons of renewable and non-renewable resources are being extracted each year, nearly double what was extracted in 1980
  • Since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled and the average global temperature has risen nearly 1°C (1.3–1.6°F)
  • Plastic pollution in our oceans has doubled since 1980
  • 90% of wild fisheries are either overfished, depleted or fully exploited
  • More than 80% of wastewater around the world is being discharged back into the environment without being treated
  • 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other waste from industrial plants are dumped into the world’s water systems each year
  • The extensive use of fertilizer and pesticides from industrial agriculture has caused more than 400 hypoxic zones in freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems, affecting more than 245,000 square kilometers
  • Particularly in island nations, invasive species have had a significant impact on biodiversity, causing the extinction of many important endemic species
The right choice, for your kitty and the earth.

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.

Some of the most important things you can do are:

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.

  • Educate yourself. Understand what factors have been driving environmental degradation. Unfortunately, a lot of it has to do with corporate greed and uncontrolled capitalism/consumerism, which stresses the importance of who you vote into power. Those people will be making the rules by which capitalism will operate.
  • Vote with your wallet. Another great way at the individual level to be part of this solution is to become an informed, conscious consumer who is aware of their ecological and social footprint.
  • Think about how your actions affect other people and the planet. Everything we do has some sort of impact. What kind of impact do you want to be responsible for? In what ways are you giving back and helping to be part of the solution? In what ways are you contributing to the problem?
  • Share your knowledge with others. Share what you’ve learned on your journey with others. I know that trying to convince others to modify their behaviors can feel like a futile effort, but it’s important on how you approach it. Let others make informed decisions themselves; what you can do is provide them with the information (share books, articles and documentaries) and let them decide.
  • Support conservation efforts. Donate to conservation organizations with causes that speak to you. Remember, the smallest organizations doing work on the ground are typically the most under-funded, yet the most in need. Be careful of course which organization(s) you choose, but usually a little money goes a long way.

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.

The right choice, for your kitty and the earth.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
No items found.
The right choice, for your kitty and the earth.
I want in!
No items found.

Hurry up!

00
Days
00
Hrs
00
Min
00
Sec

Get started