This is not just an ordinary seed-crop reference. It means every action has a consequence. And this couldn’t be a more perfect fit for the situation which humanity finds itself in today.
The giraffe is the latest animal to creep into the ‘Endangered Species’ list. Two giraffe subspecies have been listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species for the first time. Giraffe numbers plummeted by a staggering 40% in the last three decades, and less than 1,00,000 remain today.
What do the Dodo, Great Auk, Stellers Sea Cow, Tasmanian Tiger, Passenger Pigeon, Pyrenean Ibex, Baiji White Dolphin, and the West African Black Rhinoceros have in common? All these species are extinct. They did not go extinct naturally, due to lack of predators. The common cause of these extinctions has also figured out a way to destroy the very planet that gives them air to breathe, water to drink, and land to live on.
The world may be in the throes of mass extinction – the sixth time in the planet’s history that species are experiencing a major, global collapse in numbers. Historically, mass extinctions have been caused by catastrophic events like asteroid collisions. This time, our activities are to blame. Research suggests that the average rate of extinction over the last century is 100 times higher than normal. Frogs and insects are dying at record rates, and animal species are experiencing ‘biological annihilation.’ According to an early draft of a United Nations report obtained by the AFP, up to 1 million species are projected to be threatened with extinction, many within decades. Roughly 40% of the world’s insect species are in decline. A 2019 study found that the total mass of all insects on the planets is decreasing by 2.5% per year. If that trend continues unabated, the Earth may not have any insects at all by 2119!
Already, there is consensus on one key driver of these alarming extinction trends: human activities. According to a 2014 study, current extinction rates are 1,000 times higher than they would be if humans weren’t around!
What have we done to find ourselves in this position? Well, everything. We have polluted the land, water and air (biosphere), we have successfully altered the planet’s climate patterns, exposed the planet to harmful radiations, cut down trees and forests blindly, and of course continue to use other living species as products, either for food or for accessories. Basically, we haven’t cared about anything but ourselves. We have been selfish in using all the resources provided to us. And so we are reaping what we sowed. We are to today’s living species, what that fateful asteroid, which hit Earth, was to the dinosaurs.
It is generally agreed that human activities, such as the destruction of habitats in order to accommodate our ever growing population, are largely responsible for this increase in species’ extinction rate. However, it’s also evident that conservation projects have been effective for some species. We need to continue with these efforts if we want to stand a chance in preventing this current crisis from worsening. There is no bringing back what is already lost, but there is still that tiny ray of light in the distance. We still have the opportunity to reverse our actions. Act before there is no action left!