Steve Winter, a National Geographic photographer, once said, “Photography can change the world. We need images that inspire us to care and to act to save our planet.”
You know, it really does. Seeing photographs of the planet’s magnificent creatures inspire and energize people into shifting their roles in this planet; from acting like spoilt brats and just taking from nature, to reconnecting with Mother Earth and working in unity to save our home. However, there’s still not enough people realizing their moral responsibility to take care of the Earth.
With over seven billion people and rapidly rising, our demands on the Earth are much higher than they once were. Given the human tendency towards industrial progress and technological development, carbon emissions from human activities are also going up. Roughly 11% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation, decimating our ecosystems and the chance for wildlife to thrive.
The wild animal population has declined to about 60% in the last 50 years. At this point, wildlife has become a casualty of mankind’s profit-at-all-costs system; this extreme biodiversity loss representing an existential crisis. It is one of the major problems we face today. If we continue with business as usual, how many more millions of species will go extinct? And will that number include us?
We have witnessed the resilience of the Earth but with the rate of planetary abuse, we can no longer take the stability of nature for granted. To survive, we need to create a future where both nature and people can survive for generations to come.
In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 3 as World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s flora and fauna. This year’s theme is ‘Sustaining All Life On Earth’ to encourage us all to focus deeply on how we –animals, plants and humans– can coexist harmoniously and enjoy sustainable livelihoods on the life-giving planet we all call home and avoid the overexploitation of the planet’s resources.
To be a part of this year’s World Wildlife Day, take action to reduce your impact and help sustain all life on Earth.
Here are some ways to do this:
Shifting to clean and renewable energy will help to slow the warming of the planet as the burning of fossil fuels is responsible for accelerating climate change. Install solar panels on the roof of your home, or if you don’t own your own home, switch to green electricity providers.
Regardless, you should aim to use less fossil-fuel powered energy. You shouldn’t need Earth Day to remind you to turn off the lights and appliances when not in use. By switching to cleaner sources of power and using less energy, you help reduce demand for fossil fuels and contribute to a greener world.
Improving the system of food production and consumption can help to heal the planet; implementing regenerative farming practices and food recycling initiatives can help reduce deforestation and land clearing, limit chemical usage, reduce agriculture’s dependency on fossil fuels, conserve precious water and minimise food waste.
If the system of food production and consumption doesn’t change, not only we will not be able to feed the estimated world population of nine billion people by 2050, but we will further contribute to the destruction of ecosystems and decimation of wildlife populations.
To encourage a more positive approach to food production, make sure to buy from farms and food companies that support sustainable farming; organic and regenerative agriculture that ensures that not only are the workers and animals being looked after, but that the soil and environment can heal and regenerate.
Another way is to shift away from meat-heavy diets. Cutting back on meat will reduce demand for animal agriculture, a carbon-intensive that heavily contributes to climate change.
Restore the ocean’s health
Communities and nations must come together and collectively agree on how to use and fish the oceans so as to conserve fish stocks and halt marine biodiversity loss. Restoring the health of our waters will ensure there is enough fish for the many communities that rely on it as a source of food and livelihood, and help to conserve life below the water.
Of course limiting the production and usage of single-use plastics should be top priority. Over 100,000 marine animals die each year due to ocean plastic and since plastic breaks down into microplastics, these are now getting into the food system and may trigger numerous human health problems. Continuing with today’s absent-minded disposable plastic habits will mean that there will eventually be more microplastics in the ocean than fish (by weight).
To break your plastic habits, read this comprehensive post which lists 20 ways to remove plastic from your life.
Protect the wild
Countless species are becoming endangered and extinct and since global warming is a result of human-induced activities, their future is literally in our hands. Supporting environmental organizations that conserve wildlife populations, making conscious consumer choices and traveling mindfully helps to protect the biodiversity of the planet. Each one of us –flora, fauna and human– has a role on this Earth and we need to find ways to cohabit so we can all thrive for many centuries to come.
The human species is only one link in the chain of life. By working together and recognising and taking our roles as stewards on this earth seriously, we may be able to sustain all life on earth.
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Featured image by Matthew Cabret.