Today’s U.N. report provides a stark warning – we humans are threatening all life on Planet Earth with extinction: up to 1 million plant and animal species are at risk and many may disappear within decades. Every species has a role to play in the tapestry of life and if we do not protect this biodiversity, if we continue over-consuming and wasting natural resources, the tapestry will gradually fall apart. This, of course, is what scientists have been predicting for years and what I have been speaking about in every lecture.
So – is there any hope? Only if we get together now and use our human intellect to find the necessary solutions to save our planet: (1) We must work to reduce poverty which limits access for many people around the world from reducing or eliminating pressure on ecosystems and harm to the environment (2) Those who are able must think about how our often unsustainable lifestyles and individual actions may negatively impact the natural world and future generations. (3) We must tackle the problem of human overpopulation and the astounding proliferation of farmed animals and industrial agriculture. And (4) we must balance our need for economic development with the realization that our planet has finite resources. We rely on these resources for clean air and water, and millions depend on them for their livelihood. If we treat natural resources as if they are infinite and if human populations continue to increase, there will be no hope. Indeed, in some places, natural resources are being consumed more rapidly than nature can restore them.
Fortunately nature is amazingly resilient: places we have destroyed, given time and help, can once again support life, and endangered species can be given a second chance. And there is a growing number of people, especially young people, who are aware of these problems and are fighting for the survival of our only home, Planet Earth. We must all join that fight before it is too late.
The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.