Forget Noah and his ark; modern humans are here to plunder and purge Mother Earth of all her precious beasts.
For decades, scientists and environmentalists have been warning about the lasting effects of climate change due to greenhouse gases building up in our atmosphere. This, coupled with the continued shifting and shrinking of animal habitats, threatens biodiversity losses so great that humanity is accelerating the extinction of millions of species.
Leah Gerber, ecologist and director of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at Arizona State University, told the New York Times,
“Biodiversity is the foundation of social and economic systems, but we have failed to solve the extinction crisis.”
Animals wave their white flag in the name of human and environmental neglect.
In Florida, wildlife officials have begun hand-feeding emaciated manatees romaine lettuce because of decimated seagrass beds. These once plump, endangered sea cows are starving for lack of food sources.
In 2021 alone, more than 1,000 manatees died in the state of Florida – that’s more manatee deaths than the previous five years had accumulated, leaving the statewide manatee population at only 6,000. Authorities were so overwhelmed with manatee corpses that they had to tow their carcasses to remote islands to decompose.
Environmental groups have linked devastated seagrass beds to waters polluted by faulty sanitary sewer systems. About 200 million gallons of polluted water from the reservoir pond of an abandoned Piney Point phosphate plant leaked into Tampa Bay in April 2021. Scientists have warned that the leaks could lead to a bloom of harmful algae that invade the surface of the water, reducing the amount of light needed for seagrass and other aquatic plants to grow.
Ironically, Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit in mid-December authorizing deep well injection for the remaining 300 million gallons of dangerous Piney Point wastewater to be injected under Earth.
From manatees to the juggernaut’s distant cousins, 20 Sri Lankan elephants have died in the past eight years from consuming plastic waste from nearby landfills due to the degradation of their natural habitat. Two other people were found dead this weekend.
Hungry elephants roam the dumps and consume plastic and sharp objects that harm their digestive system. The elephants eventually stop eating and become too weak to stand, prohibiting the consumption of food or water and ultimately leading to the death of these revered mammals.
According to officials, about 54 Sri Lankan landfills exist near wildlife areas where nearly 300 elephants roam.
However, Sri Lanka’s elephants are not the only ones suffering. In 2020, elephants in the South African region saw an increase in the death toll, with more than 300 dead in Botswana alone. Veterinary scientists have cited cyanobacterial neurotoxins, aka blue-green algae, found in waters near elephant carcasses as the root cause. Blue-green algae are microorganisms that can damage the liver and thrive in warmer waters. Temperatures in sub-Saharan Africa are rising more than twice the global average, making the region highly susceptible to toxic algal blooms.
Biodiversity is the fundamental supply chain of our society, and serious imbalances in the diversity of life can cause ecosystems to collapse, threatening all animals, including humanity’s food and water supply. .
Gerardo Ceballos, an ecologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told the New York Times,
“We are eroding the planet’s ability to sustain human life and life in general.”
He went on to suggest that conservationists should start considering all species with populations below 5,000 at risk of extinction. Over the past century, more than 540 species have gone extinct – a total that scientists say would have taken 10,000 years to achieve without human-imposed environmental impact.
To learn more about how you can get involved in the fight against climate change, visit the Evergreen Action website. The organization is dedicated to pushing through legislation that would adequately address the climate crisis.
Jenilee is a freelance writer living in Bend, Oregon. When she’s not dancing in her kitchen with her son, she can be found watching all of the Bravo franchises.