In 2019, global awareness of the human impact on the environment is at an all-time high. No matter where you turn, you cannot escape it, whether it’s on social media, TV, or actually, right in front of you – we’ve all seen the schoolchildren striking and demanding governments to listen to the extreme temperatures and weather shifts we all face around the world.
We push harder than ever for equal human rights regardless of sexual orientation, gender or skin colour. We fight to prevent the extinction of diverse species as well as the basic rights of the ones we consume and exploit for labour, for science, for clothes and cosmetics. In all these fights, we face a crisis. What we are doing is impacting the very earth we call home and the animals and plants sharing it with us.
Throughout human existence we’ve been shaping our environment to suit our specific needs whether for shelter, food, or to travel. We’ve modified the world to suit ourselves. It’s only quite recently that we have started to question how that affects the environment around us. It’s become apparent that when people travel, they introduce different species to different environments, sometimes wiping out the native fauna and flora.
With feeding the world’s huge population, comes animal-rearing and massive lands transformed from wild forests to plains upon plains used for crops and cattle. 18 million acres of forest are lost each year. Man-made deforestation and agriculture being the leading cause.
We’ve taken over the world and keep growing in numbers, meaning we need more and more land to build on, leaving less and less natural land available for our compatriots who constantly need to adapt themselves to us in order to survive.
Human equality, the same rights for everyone, we’ve been chanting this, but are we are not yet all equal. In numerous countries, wages for women are still not the same as men, with only six countries giving equal working rights to both men and women. People of colour with the same qualifications as their white counterparts still struggle to get hired. If you are disabled, even less likely. If you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, you can fear for your life in most countries around the world to this day, and forget about same-sex marriage, in 73 countries it is still illegal.
Let’s face it. We are Earth’s worst nightmare. We have caused so many species to go extinct and to be critically threatened, this year around 16,306 animals and plants are endangered, 99% of them because of human activities. We can no longer ignore that the Earth is suffering, we are suffering. The people are calling ever louder to be heard and for urgent actions this time around because it’s on us.
But people have incredible powers to make change, individual and en masse. Look out for my next blog about historical figures around the world who have made a great difference to their environment.
By Marijke Everts
- Only six countries in the world give women and men equal legal work rights by Lucy Lamble, 01/03/2019, Guardian
- The Extinction Crisis, Center for Biological Diversity
- 73 countries where homosexuality is illegal
- Endangered Earth
Featured image at the top: Meteorology: a view of the Earth and the sun during summer [in the Northern hemisphere], Wellcome Collection, CC-BY