Endangered species of the world. Hardly a day goes by or we talk about only one endangered species of the world: humans. It’s as if the pandemic totally closed us off from the rest of the world.
Biodiversity declines at an unmatched rate. Only fundamental changes can protect the 1.000.000 endangered plant and animal species of the world. Vested interests must be overturned.
We tend to forget that the survival of species, including us humans, depends on the ecosystems in which biosystems live. The most vulnerable species are threatened the most severely. This includes all of the poorest humans who live on this planet.
Some of the links are affiliate links. As an affiliate associate, we earn a commission when you purchase any of the products offered through the shared links at no extra cost for you. This helps us maintain this website.
Table of contents
Unlimited consumer needs
The loss of biodiversity is directly related to human activity. There are five human activities that drive this loss:
- Changes in land and sea use;
- Direct exploitation of organisms (e.g. fish, poultry, pigs, cows, horses);
- Climate change;
- Invasive alien species.
These changes are directly caused by population growth, exorbitant consumption patterns, technological failures, abuse of governance, and a total lack of accountability. These changes are boosted by resource depletion at one end of the planet and serving the unlimited needs of consumers on the other end.
How to value ecosystems
Economic, social, political, and technological changes are required to restore ecosystems and biodiversity. One of the options is that we start to value our ecosystems and charge the products we buy with an ecosystem tax.
This means that you have to pay for the restoration and maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystems. Of course, the question is how this can work. All kinds of questions arise. What are ecosystems? How to value these systems? And even more complicated, how to charge the value of ecosystems to those who use these systems?
A very simple example illustrates how difficult these questions are. Water is of tremendous value. However, who possesses the water? Take a farmer who has a well on his farmland. The water of the well originates deep in the ground beneath the land of his neighboring farming colleague. His neighbor could empty the well by simply pumping it up from beneath his own ground. Who’s entitled to the water?
The value of water
We need some 50 – 70 liters of water each day. Drinking and cooking are the most basic types of water use. We use water to clean ourselves, our clothes, the house, and the car.
What we usually do not take into account, is that the production of our food and our waste disposal also needs substantial amounts of water. There are enormous differences between the water people use around the world.
In the USA people use on average 600 liters of water each day. In Africa, people are already very happy when they have 20 liters per day at their disposal.
Another use of water we tend to ignore is for the production of, for instance, the cotton t-shirt we wear (2,900 liters for one shirt), for the steak we eat (15,500 liters for a kilogram of beef), and for the sugar we use (1,500 liters per kilogram of cane sugar).
The value of ancestral knowledge
In the 1980s the Sahel desert in Africa got the chance to spread out due to years of drought. Nothing would grow on the dry hard, yet fertile, land. Thousands of people died of starvation. Many more fled.
The only solution was natural regeneration. This meant that grassland and trees had to be restored before it was possible to use the fertile lands again for agriculture. Trees offer shadow and together with grass they protect against the dry desert winds. Two ancestral techniques were applied to restore land use in a natural way.
The trees are grown in so-called pits, a plant hole. The hole is filled with manure. The manure attracts insects, which process the manure. This makes it easier for the trees to collect the nutrients from the soil and take root. The insects dig tunnels that operate as irrigation channels.
The second technique was even more simple: rows of stones forming terraces. The stones stop rainwater from running away too quickly. Every drop is saved. Moreover, the soil sticks between the stones. Offering food for grass and trees. These start small, but even small plants help to absorb any rain in the soil.
How to protect the endangered species of the world?
Farmers in the Andes need grasslands for their cattle. However, after intense grazing, the soil becomes dry and loses its ability to sequester water. The danger of erosion is substantial. Threatening the subsistence of the farmers.
Trees are the solution. However, only one tree in the world grows between 3.200 and 4.600 meters: the polylepis. Fortunately, the polylepis is an indigenous tree in the Andes mountains of South-America.
The farmers experience that after the trees are planted, the entire water household improves. Erosion stops. An abundant amount of grass grows between the trees, which also helps to sequester water. The villages down in the valleys are also happy because the water comes down the mountain in a far more steady flow.
This type of natural regeneration project has yet another substantial benefit. Biodiversity restores. The original vegetation comes back. Slowly, but gradually also the animals return, in this case: pumas, deer, bears, and condors.
The economy is about money. That’s what most of us assume. However, this is only partly true, as Elinor Ostrom proved. She discovered that people want to work together when they discover that their concerns are jeopardized by their own collective actions.
Fishing grounds, pasture land, rain forests, lakes, rivers, layers of water in the ground, when these common concerns are at stake, through common ownership they can be restored when need be and maintained.
People use a complex set of rules, norms, and penalties to control the common goods they collectively share. However, this works best when people live together in a community and have a common concern.
Let’s cherish the beauty of biodiversity
Of course, clean air and water are common concerns we all share. What lacks, however, are strict rules and norms. Moreover, how to penalize someone who throws away an empty plastic bottle? And where there is one plastic bottle, many more show up pretty quickly.
The most intriguing challenge to protect the endangered species of the world is to curb indifferent attitudes. To try this through information campaigns that discourage our long-standing and habitual behaviors is an uphill fight.
We must seduce each other to discover what the benefits are of collective action. There are also many temptations in the beauty of nature, in the beauty of biodiversity, in the beauty of the world.
The benefits of the protection of the endangered species of the world have, however, far more value in themselves. Let’s recognize this value, and invest together in actions to support these benefits.
How do you contribute to collective actions to protect the endangered species in the world? Please use the comment box below.