Extinction is a natural phenomenon. Thank goodness. Unless you’re a six-year-old kid, chances are you’re relieved that dinosaurs no longer roam the earth.
But scientists estimate we’re losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the normal rate. To put that in perspective, the normal rate is one to five species per year.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals. It might be hard to imagine, but were it not for a landmark decision in 1973, the situation could be even more dire.
Unfortunately, the Endangered Species Act —which boasts a 99 percent success rate— is under political threat. That means things could get worse really quickly. We need to band together to help protect endangered species in whatever way we can.
Urging your governor to stand up for the Act is one way to help, and there are lots of other things you can do to make a difference to the planet and its inhabitants.
How to Help Endangered Species
The sad reality is that 99 percent of currently threatened species are at risk as a result of human activity. On the bright side, this means we have the power to turn the tide on extinction by changing our behavior.
A somewhat idealistic outlook, I’ll agree, but imagine if everyone made a few simple changes to the way they lived.
Don’t panic, I’m not suggesting an off-the-grid Luddite existence. I love outrageously overpriced coffee as much as the next person.
What we need to do is look beyond our immediate reality and consider that our actions and choices impact the world around us. It may not always be apparent when you’re rushing to work, dropping off kids and chasing deadlines, but we’re all connected.
These are things we should all do to protect endangered species. If we don’t, it won’t just be at the expense of the animals. The food on our plates is at risk too.
Image Credit: Net Credit
1. Call Your Governor
Call or email your state’s governor and urge them to stand up for the Endangered Species Act. Earthjustice has a form that makes it easy to send a quick email voicing your support. Never called an elected official before? This handy guide can help you get ready.
2. Learn about Endangered Species in Your Area
Endangered animals don’t only exist in far-flung places, like the Amazon Rainforest or Indonesia. Habitat loss, poaching and pollution affect hundreds of species in the USA, too. Take the time to learn about the wildlife, birds, fish and plants in your area.
Sometimes grasping the proximity of a problem can help spur us into action. When you know your lifestyle choices have a direct impact on the wildlife in your area, you’ll be less inclined to opt for convenience.
3. Nurture Your Backyard Ecosystem
Find out how you can help the ecosystem in your own backyard thrive. Plant an environmentally friendly garden, use natural pest control methods. Capture rainwater for irrigation purposes. Favor plants over lawn. Do everything you can to make a place pollinators want to hang out.
4. Stop Using Plastic
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. produces 32 million tons of plastic waste a year. No wonder 700 marine species are at risk of extinction because of plastic. Ditch the convenience of single-use plastic and opt instead for more sustainable alternatives.
5. Buy Local
Large-scale food production invariably uses agricultural practices that are harmful to the environment. One easy lifestyle change you can make right now is to support local farmers. Even if they’re not certified organic, their practices will be a lot better for the planet.
6. Slow Down When Driving
Urbanisation has forced a lot of animals into built-up areas. Along with their natural predators, these guys now also have to be on the lookout out for human hazards, like cars. Drive the speed limit, and you’ll have a better chance of stopping in time.
When you see signs warning you of endangered animals crossing, pay even closer attention. Remember, they need to get where they’re going just as much as you do.
Small changes can add up, but we also need large-scale action to protect endangered species. Join over 104,000 supporters and sign and share petition demanding that Congress take bipartisan action to protect endangered species.
If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.
Photo Credit: Getty Images