What a sad legacy we are leaving! The Eastern Gorilla, the largest remaining primate, is now critically endangered with a 70% decline in numbers over the past 20 years. There are now less than 5,000 left. They join the western gorilla, Bornean orangutan and Sumatran orangutan who had already been declared as critically endangered. Four out of the six great ape species are now unlikely to see the end of this century.
It is illegal to hunt any of the great apes but they are still killed for the bush meat trade. But loss of habitat from deforestation and mining is the greatest challenge.
There is some good news from the other side of the world with China announcing that they have reversed the decline in Giant Panda numbers with a grand total of 2,060 surviving today. No, that’s not a typo, the total population including those held in zoos is an abysmal 2,060 animals.
China has embarked on a program to re-establish bamboo forests that offer both shelter and food to the pandas. However, the bamboos that the pandas prefer are climate sensitive and are themselves threatened by global warming.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature now lists 23,928 animal and plant species as critically endangered.
It’s easy to believe that you can’t change what happens in Africa, Borneo or China but that is not true. Your actions every day impact positively or negatively on the global environment. Recycling and composting are simple and easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Planting more shrubs and trees in your garden and surrounding neighbourhood will make a significant contribution over time. Planning your shopping can reduce your hydrocarbon contribution.
If the plight of the great apes doesn’t motivate you, think about this:
The global refugee crisis isn’t caused by ideological differences. That is the symptom. The crisis is caused by competition for resources… food, water and energy.
As our world continues to warm, that competition will intensify and the flood of refugees will overwhelm every civilization including our own. Fences, ships and even guns will not stop hundreds of millions of desperate people from seeking a way to survive! The only way that we can stem that tide is by reversing the environmental devastation that we have caused and are still causing.
Think about the future that you are passing to your children and their children. Now act to make that future become a reality. Share your views and ideas with friends and family. Tell your elected officials what you expect of them. Use social media to ask others to stop and think about ways they can reduce their footprint. Nothing changes if nothing changes!