In a world where people still profusely deny climate change, it’s not a surprise that the human race’s drive to go green has somewhat stumbled at the second hurdle in the attempt to cut out overall fossil fuel consumption. Since 1995 our reliance on fossil fuels, internationally, has actually steadily increased again, much to the dismay of individuals such as Sir David Attenborough and Leonardo DiCaprio; as expressed in his acceptance speech at the Oscars. It’s also not news to anyone that we inflict suffering onto other animals as both direct and indirect impacts of our quite often reckless actions, for example ivory poaching. As a collective, should people care about our impact on our 4.5-billion-year old earth and the other inhabitants of it? After all we’ve only existed as homosapiens for around 200,000 years, how bad can we be, right?

A human-induced mass extinction is occurring, the sixth of its kind; if the lowest estimate for the number of species that exists is accurate, somewhere between 200 and 2,000 animal extinctions occur every year. This is between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. That’s because of us. Oil spills, trophy hunting, overfishing, global warming; these are examples of impacts that humans will be remembered for in this age.

Trees. They’re pretty important. Yet, 48 football fields’ worth are deforested every minute, losing out to things that are arguably less important such as palm oil used in some foods. Deforestation at any scale is inevitable, but surely the rate at which centuries old trees are destroyed on such a grossly threatening scale isn’t right. Shouldn’t we think about a more advanced way to use space instead? 17% of the Amazon has been lost in the last 50 years for cattle ranching in order to supply the demand of the more fortunate.

I’m not a self-proclaimed treehugger. In fact, I can understand why we need space in fertile areas. Humankind simply has the ability to mould this world into whatever we like, whether that be a concrete one or not, and that isn’t a problem to some. Some say that the ‘survival of the fittest’ scenario still applies in our current situation and it is not our fault that we as humans have evolved much more successfully than another animal species. But that brings me to another point; we are still animals, as much as some enjoy to detach themselves from that title. If you look at the bigger picture, we blend right in with other mammals on an anatomical level, so why do we view them as so much less important?

Not all is bad, of course, as attempts have been made to invest in sustainability and to allow the natural world to adapt to a changing environment. But as long as this ‘business as usual’ approach in regards to how we treat our planet and how we obtain energy continues, any attempts to mitigate climate change and mass extinction are merely distractions from the main direction in which we are headed.

 

Alex Homan

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