What if Wildlife Could Strike?

It probably would, in protest of the damage that Homo sapiens is causing to the world’s flora, fauna, and natural landscapes and climate, which has already caused countless extinctions and is going to cause even more in the next few decades – that is if our actions remain unchanged.

Leaving aside the moral argument by which we should conserve nature in its full splendour, we ought to safeguard biodiversity if we wish to keep hold of the benefits that we derive from it, including ecosystem services such as clean air, food supply and medicines – to mention just a few. Such services are subject to the “health” of ecosystems. The moment that we offset such balance we head towards societal breakdown, including a shift away from the utopia of living in a just society, since the countries that will be most impacted by biodiversity loss and climate change will be the developing countries in the poorer regions of the world1.

Let’s imagine what would happen if wildlife decided to strike, demanding a drastic and urgent change in how its evolutionary cousin species, Homo sapiens, is behaving. Here, by “strike” let’s suppose that nature would disappear off the face of the Earth – kind of like what would happen if entire populations would go extinct.

Image credits: https://bbc.in/2J42IUa

As trees, shrubs, grasses and plants strike, we lose half of the world’s oxygen supply, and we slowly die of asphyxiation. Towns and villages are flooded as local landscapes lose their trees and vegetation2. Meanwhile, the air in cities becomes unbreathable, smog quickly turns skies into dark clouds of chemicals, and the health of city dwellers is permanently compromised.

As insects strike, we lose our crops, food becomes scarce and people start to die, fighting over ever decreasing resources. The poorer countries and the poorer people are the ones to suffer the most. Meanwhile, as fish also strike, local economies tremble, there are outbreaks of civil wars and mass emigrations to the richest countries, leading to international conflicts and to the tragic death of the disempowered millions.  

As carnivores and scavenger species strike, the number of disease outbreaks increases to record levels3. People get ill and many die.   

Image credits: https://bbc.in/2J42IUa

This metaphor is extreme and so are the scenarios that it envisions. Yet, the Earth’s biodiversity is declining at unprecedented rates4. Half of Europe’s trees face extinction today5, insect populations are plummeting to record lows6, the loss of ocean biodiversity is ever accelerating and in 30 years there could be little or no seafood left for sustainable harvest7.

We are already late for the saving of many species, and we’re heading full-speed towards climate breakdown, ecological catastrophe and societal collapse. Our generation may be the last one able to make a difference and revert the current trends. Action is urgently needed.

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References

  1. https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-crisis-rich-poor-wealth-apartheid-environment-un-report-a8974231.html?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR1EF6aIJzxP9x3BS3AqZjmTu9cATOyAYJ9LcWPASr7AlmmYaNLcYdg2Sys#Echobox=1566041533
  2. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35777927
  3. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/we-should-embrace-scavengers-and-predators/
  4. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/
  5. https://www.iucn.org/news/species/201909/over-half-europes-endemic-trees-face-extinction
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature
  7. Worm, B., Barbier, E.B., Beaumont, N., Duffy, J.E., Folke, C., Halpern, B.S., Jackson, J.B., Lotze, H.K., Micheli, F., Palumbi, S.R. and Sala, E., 2006. Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services. science314(5800), pp.787-790. doi://10.1126/science.1132294

Cover image credits: https://bit.ly/2MkkCBi

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