All the time, our animal and plant species are vanishing. According to formalized statistics compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, (IUCN started in 1964), we have lost 800 in the last 500 years. Currently the IUCN lists highlight over 16,000 species now threatened with extinction. More than 25,000 make up their Red List of endangered animals and plants that may be on their wary way towards extinction. Many more languish on a waitlist while numbers of other species are hoping to hop onto that wait list.
Sadly, being admitted onto the lists is perhaps the only potential path to survival. The lists at the least set up, for some, a route to publicize their dire situation in search of a solution. One local example is our monarch butterflies, now on the waitlist. Lucky for the monarchs, various California agencies have taken note and taken action to halt their decline. Others are not so fortunate.
What’s happening? Why? Let’s count the ways. Start with the global development of open land that is overtaking animal and plant home bases. Add climate change. As glaciers melt and temperatures climb rising seas further erode coasts. Pervasive drought reduces waters in rivers for human consumption, for water powered electricity, for agriculture, for freshwater fish and invites the more frequent and intense wildfires that massively destroy human housing, wildlife habitats, forests and vegetation.
Solutions are complicated and intertwined and supremely important. It would appear that we, collectively, have for the past many decades contributed to our present crisis. The issues are not only how we can preserve what we presently have, but also how we can do less harm. We can start with awareness and prudent actions for the good of all.