The Road to Extinction is Paved with Good Intentions

 
 
 
 
A once pristine beach now covered in plastic pollution and waste.

A once pristine beach now covered in plastic pollution and waste.

By Adam Mehan

Recently, the UN released findings from a three-year study compiled by 145 scientists from 50  countries, along with 310 contributors and reviewed by 1500 scientists and government sources. This study reaffirms that we are all doomed unless we get our heads out of the sand and start making some changes. There is little doubt after reading the report that we are living in a truly ridiculous way.  It seems we are hell-bent on destroying the natural world as soon as possible. Especially when we consider that the benefit hardly seems worth it. It’s not as if we are living in the absolute nirvana of humanity. This is of course nonsensical sentiment. If nature goes, so do we.

There is no good news in this study. How can there be? We humans are yet to have made any significant changes in the way we live. It is yet another call-to-action. The study was not so much a collection of data as it was a deciphering of an important message. The planet is screaming at us, pleading with us to help. At some point we can no longer go about our day-to-day routine in the same way. At some point we have to stop what we are doing and make change happen. A million different species going extinct isn’t going to just simply change our lives, it will kill us. We can’t keep thinking about it as a million different species in nature and their effect on us humans. We are nature, we are a species, we are made of biological material just like everything else. We live on a biological planet where everything is undeniably tied together. When it dies, so do we. Our species is living at the expense of all others. Nothing can last that way. Humans are behaving like a parasitic species right out of a sci-fi film--a species that devours worlds and attacks Earth for resources. In the movies, eventually humanity comes together to save all life and fend off the invaders. This time, it’s an inside job, we’re the parasites. It’s one million different species of Earth versus us. And just like in the movies, we are winning.

Photo Credit: Paul Nicklen of National Geographic

Photo Credit: Paul Nicklen of National Geographic

ADVERTISEMENT

WAKING UP

We get up every day, drink our coffee, and go to work. We go to work so that we can provide for ourselves, our family, and our future. We save so we can buy a house or go on vacation, so we can visit exotic places, so we pay our bills, and go to the grocery store. When times are good, we celebrate with friends and family, we go out, we have cook-outs, we drink beer and wine and when times are bad, still we drink beer and wine.

But what happens when climate change really shakes things up? Despite our planet being immersed in what is a full-blown climate crisis, we can still largely turn a blind eye to the effects. As we continue to ignore, to delay, the consequences intensify. It has already started. What happens when our climate is thrown completely off-kilter and we’ve destroyed the coffee plantations, driving the price of coffee through the roof? What will our morning routine be then? When we’ve destroyed hops and grape crops around the globe, what will we drink to celebrate? These days are not far off. It’s happening now as you read this. Where will we go visit when all the beaches are gone? Either covered in plastic or vanished under rising sea levels. When the coral reefs are all dead from ocean acidification and bleaching--all of which are occurring this very second. Where will we visit when the polar vortex storms make our winters unbearably colder? What happens when millions of wild animals are extinct or when there are climate refugees pouring into what livable areas remains? How will we be able to buy a house, to afford food, to grow food when all the nutrient rich soil is destroyed by industrial farming. When the ocean dies and we have overfished the oceans clean, what will eat? It is happening now. This very second. When the insects and small animals that help pollination and spread seeds are dead, will there still be flowers? Vegetables to eat? Crops to grow? When is the proper time to shake things up? To get off the couch? To give a shit? When will we make it THE issue we hold politicians accountable to? How will we explain our inaction to our children? When we teach them about whales--but there are none left? Will they learn about rhinoceroses and sea turtles, coral reefs, elephants and orangutans the same way they learn about wooly mammoths and dinosaurs? How will we feel about our complacency?

The effects of coral bleaching on a once healthy coral reef.

The effects of coral bleaching on a once healthy coral reef.

ADVERTISEMENT

CHANGE IS HERE

Nobody likes to change, but change is here. We can either lean into change and preserve much of what we know the world to be or be dragged by it into a new existence kicking and screaming. One way involves sacrifice for a cleaner planet where nature can grow and thrive once again. The other involves killing most other species on earth, trees, oceans, plants, and crops. It involves overcrowding of lands, dirty and scarce water, and devastating weather events occurring, often. This is end of the world, Mad Max Road Warrior type stuff. I am not the wise old hippy elder from some movie spouting off deep rhetoric about air, wind, and water. This is not a children's lesson demonstrated in a 90’s cartoon. This is now, this is what the report is telling us is happening and will happen. This is what Peter Venkman was talking about--cats and dogs living together, MASS HYSTERIA! The time to freak out is now.

We need to stop pretending we are helpless to stop this. We’re not, but the planet we’re killing is.