Don’t Forget the Planet

While we’re ringing our hands about the future of the nation, let’s not forget the future of the planet. See Eric Levitz, Humanity Is About to Kill 1 Million Species in a Globe-Spanning Murder-Suicide.

Humanity is reshaping the natural world at such scale and rapidity, an estimated 1 million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, according to the U.N. assessment. Climate change is a major driver of all this death, but burning fossil fuels is far from our species’ only method of mass ecocide. We are also harvesting fish populations faster than they can reproduce themselves, annually dumping upward of 300 million tons of heavy metals and toxic sludge into the oceans, introducing devastating diseases and invasive species into vulnerable environments as we send people and goods hurtling across the globe, and simply taking up too much space — about 75 percent of the Earth’s land, and 85 percent of its wetlands, have been severely altered or destroyed by human development.

We need to be certain that the next president and a majority of Congress is prepared to do whatever it takes to save the planet. No more dithering; no more half measures.

For now, we’re still wringing more food out of the Earth than ever before. But we’re also exhausting the ecosystems on which that bounty depends — land degradation is sapping the agricultural productivity of nearly one-quarter of the Earth’s land mass. The mass death of pollinating insects is already jeopardizing $577 billion in annual crop production. The (now virtually inevitable) deaths of major coral reefs, combined with overfishing, will soon remove a major source of protein from the diets of billions.

See also Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace in the New York Times.