Submitted Friday, May 16, 2014
Humans believe that they rule this planet. Somehow we get to decide the fate of all animals on Earth. If we simply didn’t care about them, then it would be easy to terminate them. However, human beings are eternally bound to biodiversity, whether they like it or not.
Sometimes I wonder if the losing of just one or a few species would influence the Earth on a larger scale. I still don’t have an answer. That said, even if the answer is no, these animals still deserve protection and freedom.
Many factors determine whether biodiversity can thrive and be sustainable. Religions in Asia, for instance, many of which worship animals as gods, believe that animals possess a greater spiritual power and bring good fortune to people’s lives. Such animals include snakes, elephants, cows and pigs.
Flagship species—those that interest and attract people on an emotional level, such as lions, polar bears and pandas, also gain protection because of their popularity. Animals that have been famous in cartoons and movies or childhood stories also tend to fare better, as surely people would be incensed if they realized that the only lions they are ever going to see are from pictures and videos.
Another factor is animals that “help.” Many farmers, residence of the Arctic regions or undeveloped countries depend on livestock as a constant source of food, or use huskies for transportation or to hunt and keep watch over settlements. Domesticated animals, however, are the ones that people love the most because they all want to get close and have an intimate relationship with their pet. Sentiment through emotional attachment is perhaps one of humanity’s strongest innate characteristics.
Another thing people love are landscapes. Naturally, people love beautiful scenery and the feeling of relaxation in a serene environment. But sadly it seems like landscapes are more like pictures to them than an actual biologically functioning system that’s working tirelessly to keep up with all the garbage we are releasing.
It’s easy to see the beauty, but it’s difficult to understand the length of process it takes for this beauty to grow, or the hardships it has to overcome in order to become the way it is today. We don’t appreciate what nature has done and given us.
Dr. Lovejoy said in one of his speeches, “ we don’t have 10 million years to wait for earth to recycle and reproduce.” Nature has given us the opportunity to grow and excel. And without the exploitation of its rich resources, it wouldn’t be threatened like it is today. But probably we’d still be apes.
What if today we were the animals? What if another dominant species ruled over us? We would also be powerless to defend ourselves, and our actions would only be met with death, or imprisonment until such a point. What makes us so different from the animals in the wild? They have their homes, families and food. And while they do compete with other animals for survival, they somehow find a way to live in unison. The difference is that we build tools of destruction. We build tools for our convenience, while simultaneously and indirectly bringing harm to our surrounding environment.
The situation is no better for the many aboriginal peoples who are disappearing as our world “modernizes.” They live in the same way our ancestors once did, closely with and aware of their surroundings. Aboriginal peoples are also in some ways more intelligent than us, because they acquire knowledge from the stars and warnings from nature. They need animals not only as a source of food, but also as companions for survival — and we destroy that. If you were aboriginal, you’d also be furious that someone else is forcing you to leave your home.
Has it ever occurred to people that everything we see in the cities and everything we possess at home once came from nature itself? If there were no plants and animals on this planet, we would all die—everybody in the world knows that. But to what extent and intensity does this knowledge hit home? When will the penny finally drop?
Most people just move on, leaving it to the experts to come up with a solution because they believe it’s not within their power to do anything. This is wrong thinking. A large number of people have prevailed in their fight for environmental preservation. But a lone cry in the forest needs to be lent an ear. People are known to give up easily, but they are also rewarded for never giving up on their dreams.
Human achievement knows no bounds. We have the power to introduce change. We need photosynthesis to breathe; we need the hydrologic cycle to produce drinkable water. We need plants to be fertilized with the help of bees and butterflies so we may have fruits to eat and enjoy the smell of flowers. We need it the right way.
Humans have caused this almost irreversible global problem, and it is our duty to fix it. It’s the duty of today’s youth to fix it, and the restoration must be continued by the generations to come.
But not all of us think alike. We are all unique and act as individuals.Countries and cultures differ in lifestyle and the mentality of its citizens. Languages are different; the way people walk, talk, treat others; their values and priorities differ, too. All these complexities are influenced by one main factor: their surrounding environment. And what controls the environment?—the government. And large multi-billion dollar companies now have greater control over how things are run because that’s the source of its funding.
Society all wants the same thing: a sustainable future and better living environment. But people are selfish and greedy. And it’s precisely this greed that leads to the destruction of nature and straying from the true values of life.
By promoting correct social values, we can ensure the conservation of biodiversity. It takes people’s tiny steps toward valuing life to change people on a larger scale. People will soon understand the importance of conserving the beauty around us, not just because it’s beautiful and miraculous, but also because it’s the heart that pumps the blood coursing through our veins.
As we need blood and oxygen to survive, we are nothing without nature. We can promote programs and education in biodiversity conservation. We can plan more activities and give more exposure through media. Instead of talking about Tom Cruise or Miley Cyrus, let’s talk about how we can help people in their living environment.
You can’t save a tree that’s on another continent or across the ocean, but you can save a tree that’s in your neighborhood and devote yourself to letting your neighborhood understand the importance of this tree and garner their support.
It’s the little ripples that gradually create greater splashes over time—such is evolution.
Jennifer Khattar was born in Mansourieh, Lebanon, and is current a Natural Resources and Environmental Studies student at National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan. She’s passionate about her major and the possibilities it presents, which are key to her goal in becoming an environmentalist, activist and conservation biologist.