Earth has officially been in its 6th extinction event for many years, and the signs were plain to see long before that. The most authoritative measure of the risk of extinction is the the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
Their latest report states that about one-third of all species of plants and animals are threatened with extinction.
For comparison, when I was writing Ascending Spiral in 2012, this was a terrifying one-fifth.
A 2015 paper focusing on vertebrates stated: “Our results indicate that modern vertebrate extinctions that occurred since 1500 and 1900 AD would have taken several millennia to occur if the background rate had prevailed. The total number of vertebrate species that went extinct in the last century would have taken about 800 to 10,000 years to disappear under the background rate.” This was despite deliberately conservative assumptions: “Our calculations very likely underestimate the severity of the extinction crisis because our aim was to place a realistic ‘lower bound’ on humanity’s impact on biodiversity.”
The IUCN report also states that targeted conservation efforts are effective in saving individual species, and local ecosystems.
Mother Teresa said, “Help one person at a time, and start with the one nearest to you.” For me, a bird, a lizard, a tree, a bit of moss… any living thing is a person.
Let us do the best we can, locally in our backyards, and collectively by pooling our power, to save the wonderful nature that keeps us alive.
So sure, I can fight for a Great Forest National Park to save the Leadbeater’s possum, but this is a bandaid. More important is to look at the causes, which is human population, multiplied by each person’s impact. Both of these factors are growing.
I’ve said it many times: Live simply, so you may simply live. As a first approximation, every dollar you spend is one step further toward extinction. The global economy is a device for turning nature into pollution, as quickly as possible.
Sabotage it. You don’t need stuff. You don’t need holidays. You need peace in your heart, and the best way is to look after our home.