(Black Press file)

Editorial: We must put the brakes on extinction crisis, if only for our own survival

One million plant and animal species around the world are threatened with extinction.

We’ve now been warned that one million plant and animal species around the world are threatened with extinction. This number is greater than it has ever been in human history, and for many species, the decimation will happen within decades, if nothing is done to prevent it.

Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed,” said Prof. Joseph Settele. “This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.”

Settele co-chaired an assessment on biodiversity, which was released by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) this month.

It’s a deeply haunting assessment of what is happening to the world around us, the very world we are a part of and rely upon for our lives. The problem is that we don’t act like it. We act like we are above the world, as if it is there only for our use, a freebie input for our vaunted “economy”, which we coddle and worship almost as if it was a god.

How out of touch have we gotten? British Columbia still has no endangered species laws. According to Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, B.C. is home to more at-risk species than any other province in Canada, with 1,807 species at risk of extinction. Not having teeth to address this crisis seems like a heck of a big oversight, doesn’t it? So is it an oversight? Or have our governments over the years been too afraid to enact legislation that might mean they have to do some things to preserve our plants and animals that might not be popular with those looking to profit off our natural resources unchecked?

The thing is, we need nature. Insects, birds and animals pollinate our crops so we can keep eating. We’ve already destroyed a lot of marshlands that provided flood mitigation. Trees clean the air we pollute.

We can’t just continue to shrug our shoulders. We need to act. An endangered species law would be a good first step.

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