SOS: Save Our Species


We are facing a very scary time because our world is experiencing the 6th Mass Extinction. Scientists have declared this because it is the sixth time in the past half billion years that we have experienced these kinds of extinction rates (The Extinction Crisis). It is as if we were experiencing a super volcano or an asteroid, but it is humans that are causing these frightening extinction rates. The normal extinction rate is about 1 to 5 species a year, but we are experiencing 1,000- 10,000 times that rate. It is important now more than ever to act because on average 150 – 200 species of plants, birds, mammals, and insects are going extinct per day (Vidal).


What can you do to save these endangered species?


Awareness

The first step to saving endangered species is learning about them in order to understand their value. These creatures disappearing are not just the polar bears and tigers in a faraway land. They are disappearing in our local communities. Teaching friends and family about being aware of wildlife is the next step to raise awareness of the importance of our fragile eco-systems. One great way to learn about local wildlife and support conservation is visiting nearby nature preserves and National Parks.


Refuse Black-Market Items

When going overseas make sure to not purchase souvenirs that are harmful to the planet and too many animal species. Examples of these items include corals, tortoise shells, ivory, and horns. Peacocks are being decimated because their feathers are sold for souvenirs. Items made from animal fur or skin are of particular concern as this fashion trend is hurting many animals such as polar bears, tigers and sea otters (Merry). Be a conscious consumer while going to other countries.



Toxic pesticides

Something very alarming is that recent German study have found that approximately 75% of all flying insects have disappeared (Carrington). Another study found that 41% of insect species are declining. This is particularly alarming because of how important insects are to our eco-system. As the insects are decreasing, so are the animals who eat them such as frogs and lizards. Their decrease in population negatively impacts the entire food web. When insects dwindle plant life is harmed as the insects act as pollinators. The largest contributors to this problem is both climate emergency and the increase use of toxic pesticides. Decreasing the use of toxic pesticides in your own garden and supporting farmers who do not use these pesticides such as organic farming is a great way to reduce harsh chemicals that do not just kill just bad bugs.


Benefits of Native Plants

Grow Native Plants

Biodiversity starts in your own backyard. Planting native plants helps reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizer as they are already acclimated to the environment. Another important element of native plants is that they use less water which is particularly important in the western region and areas with water shortages. Native plants foster wildlife as they attract species such as birds, butterflies, and bees to come back home (EMSWCD). Native plants are lower maintenance and save you money while promoting the local ecology.


Reduce Carbon Footprint

Climate change is one of the largest threats that is expediting extinction levels. As the average global temperature continues to increase wildlife is extremely susceptible to disappearing as they cannot withstand the new weather conditions. Everywhere is vulnerable to the dangers of climate change, but the ocean is particularly in trouble. As temperatures rise the ocean absorbs most of the heat so the upper ocean is impacted the most (Dahlman). Promoting public policy that fights to mitigate climate change and promotes renewable energy is a great way to make a difference. Reducing overall fossil fuel usage, shopping locally, and conserving energy also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.



Eat Less Meat

One of the main reasons for the decrease in biodiversity is severe habitat loss. Humans consume way more meat than is necessary for protein/ nutritional needs. Currently livestock has surpassed the number of wildlife mammals (Rogers). Livestock requires a great deal of energy, resources, and water. One devastating problem is that the livestock agriculture industry produces more greenhouse gasses than all land transportation combined. Planning a meatless meal every week, reducing overall meat and dairy consumption, and shopping locally/ sustainably can all help reduce habitat loss.


References

Carrington, Damian. “Plummeting Insect Numbers 'Threaten Collapse of Nature'.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 10 Feb. 2019, www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature.

Dahlman, LuAnn, and Rebecca Lindsey. “Climate Change: Ocean Heat Content.” Climate, NOAA, 1 Aug. 2018, www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-ocean-heat-content.

Merry, Mitch. “10 Easy Things You Can Do to Save Endangered Species.” Endangered Species Coalition, www.endangered.org/10-easy-things-you-can-do-to-save-endangered-species/.

Rogers, Kaleigh. “Most of the Mammals On Earth Are Cows Because We're Addicted to Meat.” Vice, VICE, 23 May 2018, motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/bj3m3w/cows-most-of-mammals-on-earth.

“The Extinction Crisis.” The Extinction Crisis, The Center for Biological Diversity, www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/.

Vidal, John. “Scientist: Mass Extinction Happening Unlike Anything The World Has Seen Since Dinosaurs Disappeared.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 25 May 2011, www.huffpost.com/entry/un-environment-programme_n_684562.

Vidal, John. “Scientist: Mass Extinction Happening Unlike Anything The World Has Seen Since Dinosaurs Disappeared.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 25 May 2011, www.huffpost.com/entry/un-environment-programme_n_684562.

“What's so Great About Native Plants? .” EMSWCD, emswcd.org/native-plants/native-plant-benefits/.

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