The extinction of species worldwide is occurring faster than ever before in our earth’s history. If we continue on the current path of habitat destruction and resource consumption, this already frightening extinction rate will only accelerate. In fact, if we don’t drastically change our habits today, we are bound to lose millions of species.
Primarily two things cause species extinction: habitat destruction and climate change. The current path of destruction has already lead to shocking habitat loss. Half of the earth’s species live in rainforests where one acre of tropical forest disappears every second! This alarming fact almost seems unbelievable, but it is true. Habitat loss is resulting in millions of animal species being left homeless and ultimately dying. The main causes of habitat loss are deforestation for logging, agriculture, and livestock production; destructive development projects such as dams and mining operations; and climate change.
In the world’s oceans, habitat destruction is being caused by pollution and an increase in water temperature caused by climate change. Plastics make up 60 to 80 percent of all marine debris. When this harmful debris ends up in our oceans, it hurts and kills marine life as they become entangled in it or, mistaking the garbage for food, ingest it. At least 267 different species of birds, fish, mammals and turtles worldwide are negatively affected each day by marine debris.
Sadly, even the majestic polar bear was recently listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. The drastic decrease in polar bears has been attributed to the unprecedented melting of the older stable ice flows where the bears live. Even though the northern habitat of the polar bear is a half a world away from the tropical habitat of the rainforest, there is an amazing connection between the polar bear’s plight and the plight of other species that live in our rainforests. Global warming is caused by the increase in CO2s released into the atmosphere. Our earth’s large forests play a vital role in absorbing CO2. As we destroy habitats through deforestation, we also decrease the earth’s natural ability to absorb CO2 and therefore, destroy the habitat of many other species across the planet.
We can’t save animal habitats without stopping global warming and we can’t stop global warming without saving habitats. And, you can’t save the animals bound for extinction without participating in the global effort to save our earth. On Earth Day, April 22, 2009, the world will join forces to raise awareness of all these serious ecological problems. SPCA International encourages you to do your part by reducing your carbon footprint, recycling and participating in local clean-up efforts within your community year-round. If we are going to help the earth heal we have to be committed to address these problems daily.
Here are a few ways you can help save habitats and the creatures that cannot live without them:
- Stop or significantly reduce your consumption of beef;
- Plant native shrubbery in your backyard to help protect local wildlife habitat;
- Stop or significantly reduce your use of disposable plastics like grocery bags, disposable containers and water bottles;
- Write your members of Congress and ask them to support habitat protection legislation;
- Drive smart; keep your car in good maintenance, plan your travel to decrease the time you are stuck in traffic, carpool and generally decrease your use of gas-powered vehicles.;
- Make your home energy efficient by changing to energy-saving light bulbs and buying energy- efficient appliances;
- Reduce paper waste by calling the companies that send you catalogs and request to receive their information via email or cancel junk mail.
This SPCA International article is intended to help further your understanding of your animal's needs. We understand yourunique bond with your pet and it is our pleasure to help you look after its welfare. Thanks to your continued support, SPCA International is able to provide you and countless others with important news regarding the safety of your pets. Thank you again for your donations – every little bit helps!