Saturday, October 23, 2010

CancunCocoon#14: "Either with us or against us"

The ultimate consequence of our behavior with our environment is the extinction of a species.

Under normal circumstances, species thrive and grow in population. When the volume of the population grows unsustainably beyond the constraints of the ecological niche where it can live, then the population is reduced naturally. If there is not enough food, the weakest will starve leaving food for the strongest, who will eventually survive.

When a species becomes extinct, it is because its ecological niche is not able to support it any longer. Either food has ran out, or basic protection or humidity levels of quality of the air or water has deteriorated. When a forest is cut down to build a neighborhood, all the animals that lived in the forest cannot live on the streets. Animals have not learned to be homeless.

In 2010 alone, more than 100,000 species of animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms have become extinct. Most of them has to do with human behavior. We are cutting down forests, and this reduces habitats or ecological niches for those species. We dump thousands of tons of toxic chemicals into the ocean and that kills small microbes on which larger species feed. So both the microbes and their predators are disappearing.

I do not foresee a rapid change in our behavior that will prevent species from growing extinct. My concern is the realization of the interconnectedness of our behavior and the extinction of a species. It is a chain reaction. Although we are not predators of the species in some cases, the satisfaction of our needs is pushing the limits for more forests, for more consumption, for more food.

The waste we generate accumulates where we don't normally see it. Somewhere behind the mountain or into the desert or at the bottom of the sea. Waste chemicals are usually invisible. The east garbage patch is a floating garbage dump composed of an estimated two trillion pieces of plastic. It floats on the Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Hawaii and Japan. It covers an area twice the size of the state of Texas, or twice the size of France.

What if we collect that garbage and process it by adding some heat and reshape it in the form of highway divisions to prevent car crashes? This could be a triple-win situation: we would be reutilizing waste, we would be cleaning the environment for millions of animals that die trapped in plastic containers, and we would be reducing deaths in our highways.

If non-human nature had a voice, it would probably be hollering "are you with us or against us?" Truth being said, it should be us asking the exact same question: are we with "us" or against "us"? The planet is one. The global ecosystem is one. Extinction of a species is a threatening symptom about our own behavior. We cannot thrive as a civilization without trees and forests; without clean sources of water to drink; without fertile land to grow our food.

Giving animals a break is giving ourselves a break. Have I said my health has never been better as it has been since I became a vegetarian? Plus, I lost 16 kg (38 lb) in the process. Try it. Or at least do it for a few days at a time. Culture is what we make of it. It is constantly changing. Help our culture change.

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