By Deshnee Naidoo:
“Once, on both sides of the Atlantic, fish such as salmon, eels, and shad were abundant and played an important role in society, feeding millions and providing a livelihood for tens of thousands. But as these fish have steadily dwindled, humans have lost sight of their significance, with each generation accepting a diminished environment as the new norm.“
The above extract is from the Yale University Environment 360 website, from a paper by John Waldman which states that each successive generation does not recognise the fact that there is less on the earth than there once was.Â Many species of plant and animal life have become or are in a rapid process of becoming extinct. Most people do not realise this because they have either not grown up with it and so they do not notice its absence or they simply do not care.
The people I know and associate with are very aware of the environmental issues facing our planet but they believe that humans should come first before trees and animals. “WE are important, NOT the dumb trees”, said Sara Vasudevan*, a friend of mine.
But the trees aren’t dumb. Nor are the rivers dumb. Or the animals. We are all inter-connected and if any of these components lose the ability to thrive on Earth, we all may as well just crawl into a hole and wait to die for without any one of them an entire population may cease to exist including humans.
I was once asked a question, ‘If you had a choice between saving a few (a few meaning about 10,000) humans or saving a nearly extinct animal species, what would you choose?’ For me, the choice was easy. I’d choose the animals because I knew that 10000 humans are barely a drop in our 7 billion-strong population.
It’s not about learning to live with a diminishing environment and without the things we used to live with. It’s about caring enough and being mature enough to understand that WE (humans, that is) are not the owners of Earth. On the scale of life, we are just the same as the lowliest amoeba or the tallest tree. We are renting the Earth from our children and would you not want your kids to grow up knowing the same animals and plants that you did?
I’m only 22 years old and I’ve noticed the changes in the environment. From the change of seasons happening later and lasting longer (or so it seems) to the disappearance of certain birds that used to be around my house all the time. Yes, most days even I barely notice it and I’m quite an “environmentally-conscious” person. So, it doesn’t surprise me much that those people who do not care have not noticed.
The earth we abuse and the living things we kill will, in the end, take their revenge; for in exploiting their presence we are diminishing our future.
*name has been changed