Earth Day 2019: Protect Our Species
4/22/2019 7:15 am
By Grace Pawlowski
It’s hard to ignore the facts. Humans are responsible for the greatest rate of extinction since we lost the dinosaurs. The far-reaching effects of human destruction have impacted all kinds of living things such as bees and insects, coral reefs, sea turtles, whales and countless others. This Earth Day, we’re taking a closer look at the some of the devastation we’re dealing with and how we can reverse the trend. Education is the first step. We checked out earthday.org to get up to speed.
- We are amidst the largest period of species extinction in the last 60 million years. Normally, between one and five species will go extinct annually. However, scientists estimate that we are now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate, with multiple extinctions daily. Multiple species will disappear before we learn about them or the benefits they bring to our planet.
- A new study has suggested that insect populations have decreased by more than 75% in Germany over the last 28 years. This is very alarming: 80% of wild plants rely on bees and other insects for pollination, and 60% of bird species rely on insects for food.
- Habitat destruction, exploitation and climate change are driving the loss of half of the world’s wild animal population.
So, what can we do to help? The good news is, A LOT. And here are a few ways you can take action now.
Save the Bees
These buzzing insects are responsible for pollinating one third of the food consumed in America. Bees are a keystone species, meaning other species depend on them for survival. Without them, our ecosystem breaks down and the ripple effect would be disastrous. The widespread use of pesticides has slowly been killing bees and threatening the reproductive abilities of queen bees making it hard for colonies to survive over time. Over the past 10 years, the US and Europe have reported annual hive losses of 30% or higher. This is alarming but the slow decline doesn’t seem to make headline news. Here is how you can help:
Keep our Reefs Thriving
Over a quarter of all marine life on the planet live in coral reefs around the world. Reefs are home to thousands of species of fish, corals and other marine mammals and used to be thriving ecosystems that many of us have dreamt of exploring one day. Unfortunately, 25% of coral reefs worldwide are already considered damaged beyond repair, and close to 65% of coral reefs are under serious threat. Climate change—causing coral bleaching—chemical pollution and human interference are turning these vibrant underwater rainforests into white empty expanses of dead coral that can no longer support life. Here is how you can help:
- Recycle everything, regardless of where you live (even garbage from inland landfills can reach the ocean). Opt for reusable options as much as possible like Urban Market Bags.
- Stop using all chemical pesticides and fertilizers, regardless of whether you live close to the ocean. Check with your local organic gardening companies to find great alternatives to reef-killing chemicals.
- Become a coral reef volunteer. Educate everyone you know on the importance of coral reefs. If you live near a coast, adopt a coral reef and participate in clean-ups.
- If you dive or snorkel, make sure you avoid damaging corals in any way. Pledge never to take pieces of coral, step on or anchor on coral, and always dive with companies that prioritize protecting the reefs.
- Don’t buy coral or home aquarium fish unless you know they were legally and sustainably collected.
Not Enough Fish in the Sea
Fish are important contributors in their oceanic ecosystem. They recycle nutrients that are vital to the survival of organisms that are at the base of the aquatic food web. As we continue to overfish and pollute our oceans, we risk an imbalance that would threaten all life under water. Over 33% of fish species are being fished at biologically unsustainable levels and our appetite for seafood has driven poor fishing practices that are causing unnecessary harm to our environment. We also put our own health at risk when we consume seafood that has been exposed to the many chemicals and plastics that have accumulated in our oceans. Here is how you can help:
- Prevent water pollution by eliminating harmful fertilizers from your yard that seep into the soil and streams and by properly disposing of personal waste. Plastics are ingested by fish and threaten their health. In addition, plastic waste entangles sea life and impairs their ability to move and survive. Reduce plastic consumption in every area of your life (switch to Urban Market Bags) and take action by participating in beach and waterway cleanups.
For more information on the Earth Day 2019 Protect Our Species campaign, check out earthday.org and take action in a way that works for you.