Can we prevent the extinction of species?

by Fr. Shay Cullen

Natural History Museum at Leiden, The Netherlands | Photo by Henk Caspers/Naturalis Biodiversity Center via Wikimedia Commons

Ask any class of school children who are steeped in knowledge and experience of the natural world, that have been on many field trips to the forests and the sea, and who have seen numerous documentaries on wildlife and the challenges and harm being done to our planet- what they want to do or be when they grow up? Many will cry out, “To guard the animals,” “to protect the forest,” and “to care for the planet.”

We see, admire, and ought to join the thousands of school children like Greta Thunberg marching for climate justice and the protection of the natural world. When climate activists call out “save the panda” or “save the elephant,” they are saying “save the planet.” That is because the mighty force of climate change threatens all life on earth, the rapid charge towards species extinction due to human activity, overpopulation, and the insane “conquest of nature” desire among humans. The world’s population is projected to reach eight billion on 15 November 2022. In 2030, it will be 9.7 billion. In 2050, it will be 10.4 billion people, putting greater demand on the planet’s resources.

The planet has warmed up by 1.2 degrees Celsius in the past 150 years, which cannot be ignored since our stocks of freshwater fish have declined by 83 percent overall, and the oceans have warmed up three years in a row since 2021. Many fish species can’t survive. We are killing off our food supply by warming the planet and overfishing. Eventually, all could be gone. This and more disturbing revelations are according to a new shocking report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for Nature backed by 89 specialists and scientists.

We cannot deny the truth of science any longer and not take the global action that the children and environmentalists call for. Ocean levels rise fast as the polar ice caps melt quicker than they first predicted. Rising ocean levels will quickly inundate low-lying coastal areas as it now covers large parts of South Pacific islands. The UN should sequester vast ocean areas as non-fishing areas since only 15 percent of the ocean is presently protected, but it is not enforced.

Coastal Philippine towns and cities, including Manila, will be threatened by severe year-round floods by 2030 or sooner, making parts of Manila a new Venice by 2050. Property values will plunge, and investing in gondolas will be a good move. The children see and learn faster about the danger to the flowers and insects, the plants and trees, the animals, fish, and creatures of all kinds. They learn how beneficial, wonderful, beautiful, and essential the creatures and plants are to each other, supporting and helping each to survive and thrive. It’s a wonderful world we must understand and cherish as children do before it is gone.

“We cannot deny the truth of science any longer and not take the global action that the children and environmentalists call for. Ocean levels rise fast as the polar ice caps melt quicker than they first predicted. Rising ocean levels will quickly inundate low-lying coastal areas as it now covers large parts of South Pacific islands.”

With its long, pointed beak, the hummingbird can only get the nectar deep in the special trumpet-shaped flower of the orchid. Its sweet nectar is tasty to the hummingbird only, not to bees. When drinking the nectar, the bird is coated with male pollen and carries it to the next flower, and pollination takes place. Many species have similar cooperation. They have mysteriously co-evolved or co-adapted with each other for mutual peaceful survival. What a wonderful world we live in that is now fast disappearing.

If only the human species would have a similar relationship with the natural world and each other and realize that humans need to respect all living things, live in harmony, and recognize their mutual dependence. We don’t; we destroy it with more construction, cutting forests, making plantations, and building more dams and coal-fired power plants.

Unlike adults, many children have learned the truth about our natural world. They see that it is under grave threat from climate change and that thousands of species are near extinction. Humans pollute the atmosphere with CO2 by burning coal and fossil fuels, and this, in turn, is devastating all species. It is disastrous to the planet, causing severe changes in rainfall in many places like Somalia and Sudan. As you read, millions of impoverished people, women, and children have nothing to eat and are facing famine and death due to drought. The constant climate change caused by burning fossil fuels non-stop is also killing people.

So, why have we humans lost our love for the wonders of Nature, the flowers, trees, and animals? We ignore our dependence on Nature and continue to destroy it without concern, but for the cries of the child campaigners and adult advocates fighting for a clean planet and restoring the climate balance? The truth cannot be ignored. We must act to change our dependence on fossil fuels and turn to more renewable energy sources to stop global warming. As a result, the WWF reported that the world’s wildlife populations dropped to an all-time low by an average of 69 percent between 1970 and 2018.

“We all should be protecting Nature and campaigning for the government to turn to wind farms, solar power, and geothermal sources of electrical power generation and end coal-fired power plants and never consider nuclear power. President BongBong Marcos could be the savior of the Philippine environment and biodiversity if he did change the Philippines to 90 percent renewable energy sourcing.”

Humans are capable of significant achievements, and if they set out to save the world’s species of animals, they can if it is not too late. Almost every animal on earth, except rats, ants, and cockroaches, has collapsed. There have been successes: tigers with protection have increased in number, and the lovable panda has increased by 20 percent, thanks to conservation. Wild brown bears, boars, wolves, and white-tailed eagles are increasing in numbers in Europe but are far fewer than 60 years ago.

In the Philippines, conservationists are doing great work in preserving the ecosystem against loggers and destructive mining that destroys the remaining scraps of forest home to the remaining Philippine wildlife. There is excellent biodiversity here, but many species are endangered and need protection, such as the Philippine Eagle and Crocodile, Walden’s hornbill, the Visayan Warty pig, the tarsier, forest turtles, rare Negros pidgins, and other animals, all near extinction. Corporations should adopt more birds and animals and support their survival through environmental and conservation groups.

We all should be protecting Nature and campaigning for the government to turn to wind farms, solar power, and geothermal sources of electrical power generation and end coal-fired power plants and never consider nuclear power. President BongBong Marcos could be the savior of the Philippine environment and biodiversity if he did change the Philippines to 90 percent renewable energy sourcing. He must be strong-minded and never fall under the control of cronies and industrialists who are out to influence and bribe the government to enrich themselves.

The natural world, a balanced climate, and its environment of trees, rivers, lakes, and oceans are all we have to sustain human life. Protecting it and all life is our claim to being civilized, cultured people respecting rights. We can win against evil by sharing this planet with all species and showing dignity and love to all life forms. Positive action is what we need to save the planet and its biodiversity before greedy and powerful people without conscience or concern extinguish and destroy it.

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