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Heading to a point of no return

['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']
['Perspectives with Shirley Hallee']

Perspectives with Shirley Hallee

A news report popped up on-line. I thought it said one thousand species are facing extinction. I was wrong. A three year compilation of 15,000 scientific papers...all of which are based on extensive research...indicates there are a million species at imminent risk of facing extinction. A Reuters report by Gus Trompiz lays the responsibility at the feet of humans. It is our relentless pursuit of economic growth that has actually created this threat. It should be noted that we are one of the species facing extinction.

Some folks are taking this threat very seriously. A group was formed to compile this information. Their report is known as the Global Assessment. Robert Watson chaired the study which was produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES.) There are 130 countries taking part in this organization, including the United States, Russia, and China.

Scientists are appealing to governments and businesses worldwide to confront “vested interests” who are blocking reforms in farming, energy and mining. Reforms are needed now to save Earth's ecosystems. There are an estimated eight million plant, insect and animal species on this planet; and one million are currently in danger of extinction. Reuters indicates that the report “identified industrial farming and fishing as major drivers of the crisis, with the current rate of species extinction tens to hundreds times higher than the average of the last 10 million years.”

Climate change plays a big part in these losses. The burning of coal, oil, and gas produced from fossil fuels is largely responsible for the extremes in weather patterns. Scientists have indicated climate change is happening. The past couple of years given a clear indication of that our climate is rapidly changing.

I am not the only one who has been finding dead bumble bees. While these little creatures do not make honey, they are one of the pollinators. There are other insects that are at risk of extinction...and if humans are to continue to have access to food crops and medicinal plants, pollination must occur. We must also take note of the destruction of coral reefs that support fish populations.

Unfortunately, big money has a lot of power. And big money wants to continue to make money. President Trump loves coal...and has been pushing to support oil interests. He has pulled back many environmental controls put in place by President Obama. In our country we see the possibility that those who are in support of the oil industry here are hoping to gain political power. As the upcoming election approaches we need to ask the question, which party or parties are likely to protect the environment?

Indiscriminate spraying with toxic chemicals must come to a halt. Production of oil...with a huge impact on the environment must be noted...and confronted. Legislative controls need to be put in place to limit the power of big money. Society's acceptance of greed, in the production of wealth and in the aid given to support that greed through the consumption of energy and products must end.

It is time to cut back. We need to act now. Those who want to earn the big bucks must be required to earn their dollars through the production of sustainable energy or services that do not impact on the environment. Industrial farming and fishing need to go back to a “post-growth” economy. Heavy use of chemicals is creating a poisoned earth...and it must stop. And...for heaven's sake...no fracking. Humans and animals need drinkable water.

We may not understand that we can make a difference. At this point in life I may not put solar panels on the roof of my home. However, I have been thinking about it. I am consciously using less. I won't bore you with the details at this time. If you happen to meet up with me while out for a walk, we can talk about it.

Shirley Hallee is a freelance writer living in Amherst. Her column appears weekly in the Amherst News.

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