Article by Elizabeth Trickey
Read time: 3 minutes
Nature is both tough and fragile. Our Earth has been in existence for billions of years, with mammals flourishing for millions of those years. Over time, many species have become extinct, mostly due to five catastrophic natural events. Scientists say that 99% of species no longer exist! Yikes!
For those species that do survive Earth’s changes, they have needed to adapt to their altered environment, and that takes time. Lots of time. Some animals are able to make the adjustments while others perish.
As much as extinction is a normal part of life on our planet (yes, humans will most likely meet that fate, too), there is very unsettling data that tells us that humans are speeding up that process. Some scientists are referring to it as the beginning of the sixth mass extinction. Species are being wiped out at a much faster rate due to human activity such as overhunting, the introduction of non-native species to areas, climate change, pollution, and most of all, habitat loss.
Since the 1970s, humans have annihilated 60% of species. 60%!! In just 50 years!! If it was 60% of people we were referring to, that would be the entire population of Canada, USA, South America, Africa, Europe, Oceania, and a third of Asia. What have we done? More important, what are we prepared to do to stop the carnage?
Thankfully, the general public is now beginning to realize what scientists have been telling us for decades. Pressure is being put on governments to develop laws that protect the environment, even if it means not pandering to their friends in big business. People need to keep reminding our elected officials that this is a priority.
What specifically should we be demanding of our governments? Let’s start with protecting wildlife habitats. Different levels of government can change crown land into protected areas. People might be surprised to learn that in Canada, only 11% of land is privately owned. The other 89% is owned by governments – 41% federally and 48% provincially. There are plenty of natural habitats that can be protected from industrial carnage and other human activity.
Image courtesy of Ontario Farmland Trust
Governments can also enforce laws limiting the hunting of species that are at risk, and putting a stop to trophy hunting, especially for non-Canadians. However, without a large and healthy area to live, these animals will not survive anyway. Other issues that people can pressure governments to act upon are climate change, deforestation, and chemical pollution. Again, that all comes down to protecting our environment.
Stand up for the critters! Support a non-profit Canadian organization that works to protect natural areas and the species within them. Also consider a group that provides a strong voice in petitioning governments to making our environment a priority. And don’t forget our injured, orphaned and sick animals at Procyon. We are a non-profit agency that educates the public on wildlife best practices, and we provide care for over a thousand critters every year. Please consider volunteering your time, or making a donation of needed items. Check out the “Wish List” on our site.