Today is Endangered Species day, where we celebrate the anthropogenic march to extinction of other species and Homo sapiens’ victory over nature. Wait, that’s not right. The opposite of that?
Endangered Species Day is important because too many species around the world, of plants and animals, are endangered by human actions. One of the largest impacts comes from habitat loss and degradation. Just as we cannot live in a place with no food, water, or shelter, plants and animals need a specific combination of biotic and abiotic factors in order to flourish. We are taking those away from them – and away from ourselves.
Biodiversity and the natural world are intrinsically, intricately intertwined with our own existence. We cannot live if there is no food, and our food cannot grow without pollinators, or symbiotic fungi in the soil. We all require clean water to drink, and the environment provides us with this naturally thanks to the water cycle. Everywhere you look, if you look closely enough, your life (and mine!) is shaped by the interactions and existence of a trillion plants, animals, microbes, and fungi.
This is to say nothing of the intrinsic value of the animals themselves, as they are living things with inherent rights to exist and survive. This is to say nothing of the native peoples who live in and rely entirely upon these disappearing habitats for their livelihoods, or the inborn value of their lives as people just like you.
Sometimes people argue the myth of subsistence poaching, but it is just that: a myth. Poaching is a big illegal business, just like drug cartels, mafias, and crime rings. Two years ago, poachers broke in to the Okapi Conservation Project’s property and killed almost all the okapis, but also slaughtered about 20 people. Stopping poaching and teaching the local people how to survive and prosper in a mutually beneficial existence with their native plants and animals goes further for the people, and for the wildlife.
Regardless of your view on animal rights or environmentalism, however, is the hard fact that you exist because of your ancestors’ struggles. Not just your human ancestors, but all of life since the dawn of time has struggled to survive through incredible adversity. And life won, and I believe that life overall will always win. That doesn’t excuse us from trying to curtail the destruction and irreversible consequences of our unconscionable actions, from trying to save the biodiversity for ourselves and our descendants.
There is no victory over nature; there never has been, and there never will be. There will only be destruction or prosperity. There is no victory over nature or life, but there can be victory over ourselves.
Happy Endangered Species Day everyone! Remember: if you see an endangered animal, give it some space and admire with your eyes. It’s illegal to harass wildlife and illegal to own any part of an endangered species.