April 22nd is Earth Day 2019. The theme this year – Protect Our Species – aims to “educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of millions of species and the causes and consequences of this phenomenon.” Other goals include achieving major policies to protect these species, building a global movement that embraces nature, and encouraging individual actions to adopt a plant-based diet and stop pesticide and herbicide use.
Since the loss of the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago, our planet now faces the greatest rate of extinction due to human impact on their habitats. Learn more about What is driving this process of extinction?
Earth Day Network (EDN) sums up the scope of this threat with the following 10 facts for global species decline. It’s a shameful report card of our deficiency in stewardship.
Fact #1 – Our planet is losing species at an estimated 1,000 to 10,000 times their normal rate.
Fact #2 – A new study of insect populations in Germany suggests a decline of more than 75% over the last 28 years.
Fact #3 – Habitat destruction, exploitation, and climate change are driving the loss of half of our planet’s wild animal population.
Fact #4 – Among our planet’s 504 primate species, 60% are threatened with extinction and 75% are in severe population decline.
Fact #5 – Across our planet each year, more than 650,000 marine mammals are caught or seriously injured by fishing gear.
Fact #6 – In the past 20 years, global fishing operations have adversely affected 75% of all toothed whale species, 65% of baleen whale species, and 65% of pinniped species.
Fact #7 – Forty percent (40%) of our planet’s bird species are in decline and 1 in 8 is threatened with extinction.
Fact #8 – Earth’s big cats, including tigers, leopards, and cheetahs, are in critical decline and many will become extinct in the next decade.
Fact #9 – If the current decline in lizard populations continues, 40% of all lizard species will be extinct by 2080.
Fact #10 – The American Bison, once numbered in the millions, now occupy less than one percent of their original habitat.
Learn more at EDN’s Protect our Species Primer and Action Toolkit.
All is not yet lost. We can slow the rate of extinctions by working together to build a united global movement of consumers, educators, religious leaders, and scientists to demand immediate action.
For too long, we humans have placed ourselves above and apart from our planetary web of life, ignoring the interconnectivity of all life forms. To drive national and global economic growth, our species continue to mistreat, exploit, and destroy non-human life. Do our cities have to burn like the Notre Dame Cathedral for humankind to finance and take swift, decisive action to do what needs to be done?