When you think about it…what will be left if…?

Dodos are extinct...

Photo by mwanasimba/Flickr

When you think about it…what will be left if…?

Between global climate change, mass-farming techniques, and indiscriminate hunting practices, many species of animals are being pushed to the edge of extinction—thousands have already gone over the edge.

Norman Myers calculates the loss of species (plants, animals, and insects) at 50 a day. Other experts put the figure even higher. Basically, we have no idea. But what we do know is that this is the only planet we have to live on; and we, the human species, are the only ones who can do anything to stop the destruction.

According to Bill Bryson in his A Short History of Nearly Everything, we humans have been on this planet for approximately 0.0001 percent of Earth’s history. Put another way, if you think of the history of Earth as a 24-hour clock, we humans arrived at not long before the clock struck midnight. Yet, we transformed the planet in a multitude of ways in a short period of time. What will we do with the next minute and the next one after that?

Right now, through global climate change, we are causing the decline of wolves, trout, salmon, polar bears, artic foxes, desert bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, lobsters, manatees, penguins, musk oxen, dolphins, and hundreds of other species. According to the Audubon Society, many birds are shifting their ranges northward in response to warming temperatures. However, they may not find suitable habitat as they move north because of human intrusion.

Clear-cutting land to plant crops to feed domesticated livestock who are eventually slaughtered for our dinner plates further reduces habitat for many species who have either already gone extinct or are on the verge. And hunting for sport has decimated populations of wild animals to the brink of extinction. For example, today there remain between 3,000 and 5,000 tigers in the wild.

When you think about it…what will be left if we continue our destructive ways? There is no other planet to which we can escape. This one’s it—and we its stewards. How well are you taking care of your corner of Earth?

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