Extinction is alive and well


When I was a youngster I learned about the extinction of dinosaurs. Then, “extinction” was a curiosity, something which couldn’t possibly happen again…

Now, in 2023, plants and animals throughout the world are declining so rapidly that extinction of many wildlife species is probable.

Surely this isn’t a surprise. Don’t get depressed: there’s no time for that. What can you, personally, do right now to advocate for the protection of biodiversity?

Extinction Rates “Accelerating”

On May 4, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released a report on the status of international wildlife decline. (www.un.org)IPBES states, “around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.”

IPBES ascribes this catastrophic loss to five primary factors. “…the five direct drivers of change in nature … are, in descending order: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species.”

Relevance to the Pontiac

Mindfully, Covid tapped us on the shoulder, reminding us how healthy it is to be outdoors in fresh air, surrounded by Nature. Yet here in the Pontiac, we’re guilty of taking our spectacular nature for granted. Look around!

Driving the 148 we see farmers removing trees and “transforming waste land into productive land.” (I have often been told, “it’s just tertiary woodland, Katharine, it needs to be cut.”)

Do you believe that ongoing, sanctioned clearcutting of Pontiac forests for timber, sand pits, aggregate, lawns, etc. …is sensible? Is it okay if we continue to drain wetlands for industrial agriculture – or create non-sustainable suburban-sprawl housing with its associated infrastructure of inevitable big-box stores and parking lots – and new roads and highways?

This, this is what is meant by biodiversity loss: the “extinction-by-design” aka removal of any sort of natural habitat (read: homes) for native wildlife. It’s happening all around us and it happens so slyly and slowly that we don’t know what we had – until it’s gone. Extinct.

Is that the future we want for the Pontiac?

Right to life

The UN report notes, “More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.”

Does that matter? Yes. Think about migratory birds returning to the Pontiac who fly arduous distances and, during their trip require shelter and food. The birds’ migratory routes traverse degraded or permanently destroyed natural landscapes.

They arrive exhausted here in the Pontiac, to discover the woodland or wetland that was home a year ago has disappeared. Clearcut for Pontiac mills, agriculture, sandpits, sprawling housing developments.

Is it only human beings who possess the right to a healthy life? – Although many people on Earth live in degraded circumstances, human life is held supreme over any other life form on Earth.

Erosion of ecosystems

The report explains, “We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”

The authors note, “We need serious, transformative change. Through ‘transformative change’, nature can still be conserved, restored and used sustainably – this is also key to meeting most other global goals. By transformative change, we mean a fundamental, system-wide reorganization across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.”

Act now: Sign Gatineau Park Petition

We must protect, not eliminate, biodiversity.

So become an activist. A Pontiac example? Protect Gatineau Park. It has 118 rare or endangered species, many wetlands and forested areas, and 50 lakes. Sign CPAWS-OV’s petition at: petitions.ourcommons.

Our parks urgently need protection – from us. Must you use fossil-burning recreational machines to add to global warming? Ditch the jet ski, snowmobile and ATV at least in our parks! Consider your recreation and the impact your personal choices have upon wildlife. Choose to change to preserve, not threaten, biodiversity.

Start with yourself. Make a difference. Teach your kids. Lobby governments. Voice your support for biodiversity.

Contact: fletcher.katharine@gmail.com