International conservation experts reported last week that nearly one in five vertebrate species face extinction.
Let’s bring this closer to home. Vertebrates are animals with spines, or backbones. They include fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, land mammals (including primates) and air-breathing sea animals. The five-decade survey by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines animals threatened with extinction as those with fewer than 50 individuals left of a given species, or that the chances of extinction are at least 50 percent within 10 years.
So, will you miss polar bears when they’re gone? Will you kick yourself for not having trekked to see the few mountain gorillas left in the forests of Uganda?
Even if your answer is “no” to these questions, it’s worth considering that the loss of these invertebrates will upset the delicate balance of organisms on our planet. Everything is connected, even if we’re unaware of it. Although it’s hard for us to admit, we are collectively to blame for the decline of these species because the problems are related to the expansion of farmland, overlogging and overfishing, as well as urban sprawl and general pollution.
Governments meeting at the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity met in Nagoya, Japan received the IUCN report, which makes it clear that the presence of us humans– and our behavior – threatens so much of our living environment. In fact, a full third of all the assessed species are listed as threatened.
“So what am I supposed to do about it?” you may ask. The simplest answer is: don’t have kids. If you already have one or more children, that’s enough. It seems to us that most people take the following attitude when it comes to conservation: “So what if I leave a porch light on all night? How much of a difference will that make in the grand scheme of things?” The same reasoning applies to buying an inefficient car or letting the water run when I shave or using my fireplace. The obvious truth is that when most of us do it, the cumulative effects can be devastating to the environment.
And no matter how much we each conserve, the more of us there are on the planet, the more things get screwed up, especially here, in the most inefficient and consumption-based nation on Earth.
So the next time you think that adding just one more to America’s, and Earth’s, population is no big deal, know that it is a big deal. A very big deal. If we don’t each do our part – or, rather, not do it – it may be too late for thousands of species.
So, think twice before having children. Your local Pink Fairy Armadillo will thank you.