What are the problems?
Humans have evolved, grown and thrived, in nature. Its resources have enabled people to dominate the planet complete with modern expectations, benefits and luxuries. More than that, we depend on nature for our survival – humans are part of the great, complex web of life on earth, and if that web starts to unravel our very existence is in danger. And that’s exactly what is happening – the global populations of fish, mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles have plummeted by 68% in the last 50 years (1) and insect populations are also in decline. (2) Natural habitats and ecosystems such as forests, wetlands and coral reefs are disappearing. The rivers and seas are ever more polluted, as is the air. And it is human activity that is causing all this. There are only two solutions: either humans change their relationship to nature, or they themselves become endangered or extinct.
The way we produce our food has a major impact on biodiversity. We are emptying the seas of fish and dedicating more and more land to growing crops to feed livestock for our meat. Our monoculture farms do not provide the diversity nature requires and would provide if we left it alone. (3)
Key drivers of species loss (4)
What can we do to help?
- Buy fewer products and only those that have minimal impact on biodiversity
- Invest in ways that promote nature (change your bank account or pension)
- Reduce, reuse, recycle, recover, repair your clothes and electrical items
- Educate children about biodiversity, ecosystems and the threats they face and the opportunities to restore them.
- Try to eat less fish, meat and dairy
If you have a garden:
- Avoid mowing the grass in May so pollinators have something to eat
- Avoid using pesticides
- Avoid trimming hedges from March to August when birds are nesting
- Create wildlife corridors and bug hotels
What do you think?
- Should the crime of mass damage and destruction of ecosystems (Ecocide) be made an arrestable offence?
- Should our gardens and public spaces be allowed to grow a bit more wild?
What else can be done?
There is a growing consensus that we should listen more to indigenous communities who have a much better connection with, and understanding of, the natural world around them. And we should strengthen their land rights to protect them from extractive industries and developers. (5) Many companies are destroying or polluting our shared natural world without consequence – they rake in the profits while the rest of us are left with the costs. This should be taken into account when assessing the cost and value of the things we produce. (6)
We need new ways of farming, using land for different purposes. Exactly how we do that is currently much debated. Tackling climate change by reducing carbon emissions and absorbing carbon will be an essential route to reducing biodiversity loss. We can help by supporting political action committed to protecting and restoring biodiversity, supporting institutions that promote the protection and restoration of nature and supporting local and regional projects aimed at tackling biodiversity loss.
Keywords for further research
sixth mass extinction; pesticides; neonicotinoids; pollinator decline; insect hotels; doughnut economics; polluter pays principle; post-growth economics; make ecocide law; survival international; minority rights group international; precision fermentation; permaculture; ecological footprint; ecological diversification; no mow May
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