Mankind having devastating impact on Earth’s species

It should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention that mankind has, in some overall sense, had a negative impact on planet Earth since becoming the dominant species.

It may, however, surprise some to learn just how badly we’ve soiled the nest.

According to the United Nations’ first comprehensive report on biodiversity, which was out over the weekend, more than 1 million species alive now on the planet are facing extinction because of our witting, unwitting and ham-handed relationship we have forged with the environment.

Remarkably, according to the report’s authors, it’s not too late to fix things.

According to The Associated Press, species loss is accelerating to a rate tens or hundreds of times faster than in the past. More than half a million species on land “have insufficient habitat for long-term survival” and are likely to go extinct, many within decades, unless their habitats are restored. The oceans are not any better off, AP noted.

Here’s what we’re doing wrong:

— Turning forests, grasslands and other areas into farms, cities and other developments. The habitat loss leaves plants and animals homeless.

— Overfishing the world’s oceans. A third of the world’s fish stocks are overfished.

— Permitting climate change from the burning of fossil fuels to make it too hot, wet or dry for some species to survive. Almost half of the world’s land mammals — not including bats — and nearly a quarter of the birds have already had their habitats hit hard by global warming.

— Polluting land and water. Every year, 300 to 400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents and toxic sludge are dumped into the world’s waters.

— Allowing invasive species to crowd out native plants and animals. The number of invasive alien species per country has risen 70 percent since 1970.

To be clear, Democrats can’t blame President Trump’s tweets for this mess. And Republicans will have to look past Hillary’s emails for the culprit. Fact is, all of us have dirty hands. The unbridled pursuit of easy, cheap resources and the riches they bring is finally catching up with us.

The good news is, we can still fix the problem — if we start working together across a broad spectrum of issues and efforts.

But that’s going to take political leadership and vision, things not found in great abundance in the nation’s capital.


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