My sister shared this incredibly sobering video on twitter yesterday:
We have somehow lost 50% of wildlife since 1970. When you look at the report a little bit further, it shows that freshwater vertebrate species have declined by 76% due to habitat loss and fragmentation, pollution, and invasive species.
Reading this, I was absolutely shocked. I mean, we have all seen the charts of how many earths we need to support our energy consumption and etc, but I found this utterly sobering. How did we let this happen? We need to do so much better.
I was reminded of this poignant quote from the great thinker, Albert Einstein:
A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
We have to stop believing that we are separate. With selfish, judgemental, thoughtless actions, we hurt others around us, and we destroy the environment. When you think about all of the things to care about – poverty, inequality, injustice, we clearly have a lot of work to do. But I think that it is impossible to conceptualize a plan that has addressed poverty that doesn’t recognize that access to healthy food, clean water, and fresh air are critical to achieving basic human rights for the most vulnerable. Protecting nature is a PREREQUISITE to human development, and addressing the huge global issues of hunger and safe water supply.
The Living Planet report that had described this shocking state does include a hopeful message. That even though things look rather dire, we can work together to find a solution, to “close this destructive chapter in our history,” and “build a future where people can live and prosper in harmony with nature.”
When I think about these issues, I sometimes feel overwhelmed – that the macro issues of sustainable development, industrial production, and governance seems beyond what I can do.
It was heartening to follow some of the outcome of the Paris Climate Change Summit (and the Paris Climate Accord), which is a historic moment where nearly every country committed to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. If you want to try to create your own policy solution, try out this super fun computer model at www.energypolicy.solutions.solutions to see how implementing various policies will move the needle on decarbonizing the economy.
At an individual level, we can work toward consuming more wisely, adopting sustainable energy use practices, and being aware about how our food consumption practices have an impact on the world we live in. Here is a brief infographic on what YOU can do about climate change, but I would also love to hear your suggestions about how a you have made conscious shifts to a more sustainable lifestyle. (Also, if you haven’t seen John Oliver’s monologue on Food waste, it is worth a watch, and it will likely inspire you to want to eat much uglier fruit!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8xwLWb0lLY)
We need to protect the natural spaces in this world, as they support our life. And giving up is simply not an option – we have to believe that we can make a difference.