Yesterday, I travelled up to Durango, Mexico thru three biomes and multiple microclimates. The views were fantastic and compelling; the engineering, world class. Yet I saw few animals; one long-tail weasel, one coyote, one turkey vulture and three red-tail hawks. I’m from Wyoming and I do a lot of driving on lonely roads and there is usually wildlife to be seen. I was disappointed. I found the same to be true in China two years ago. No wildlife… not even songbirds! And back here, right out my window! Where are the birds? I loved to watch the stately pelicans solemnly winging their way back to Bird Island for the night silhouetted against an orange sky. Where are they? ……….. Truth be told? Elsewhere looking for something eat because the fish here are gone too!
Half of the world’s wildlife has been lost in the last 40 years. Half. I’m talking numbers here, total numbers. If you look at the species level, we used to lose one to five species per year. Now we lose dozens every day, mostly to habitat loss and human exploitation. There is only one male Northern White Rhino left on the planet. One. In the meantime, the planet’s human population doubled in the past 40 years while the per capita energy consumption tripled. Coupling those facts, twice as many people are using six times as much energy, mostly energy from fossil fuel consumption. And that leads to climate change which is responsible for 7% of the decline in the number of species on this planet; full circle. Man is a species too and is subject to the Laws of Nature, don’t forget. Once the circle is completed, there is no stopping it. Believe me, the planet doesn’t care if the Maldives get submerged! Apparently, we don’t either!
Forty years ago I was a freshly minted biologist riding the National Environmental Policy Act wave of enthusiasm that lent weight to the first Earth Days. Now people don’t even notice. Or worse, Florida puts elected legislators in jail for using the word “climate change”. How short sighted is that? Especially in Florida, of all places! Worst Case Scenario: Planet Earth is beginning its sixth great extinction (you all remember the last one, don’t you? Think dinosaurs.) It’s time we woke up and realized that we have a problem and asked the question, “What the F### are we gonna do now?”
Meanwhile, I’ll just sit here in my bubble and maybe take a nice long walk down our beautiful beach to the three palms……. maybe find a sand dollar or two or twelve or twenty, like we used to do? Probably not. Oops! I forgot. One palm got washed away! Not to worry. Two palms is enough… for now.