AP NEWS

Not too late to save endangered species

May 20, 2019

The vast majority of Earth’s land and oceans have been altered by humanity. Key pollinators are dying off. Plastics are filling our oceans and killing marine life. Cities are sprawling. Reefs are disappearing, and coasts are eroding as the Earth is warming. Food chains and freshwater supplies are threatened.

These are the bright flashing warning lights from a recent United Nations report about how humanity is devastating the planet. The report, based on more than 15,000 scientific and government sources, compiled by authors from 50 nations, is as sweeping as it is depressing and terrifying.

The top takeaway is the possible extinction of 1 million of the 8 million estimated plant and animal species on Earth. But if you are unmoved about having fewer insects splatter on your windshield, or the disappearance of reindeer from the continental United States, or the plight of porpoises in the Gulf of California, or the coastal erosion and flooding that will come with climate change, then perhaps you will be moved by the implications for humanity.

Mass extinction threatens our food systems, global trade and access to clean water. It is a domino effect. One species gone affects other species.

It’s not too late to make a difference. From supporting local agriculture, to embracing alternative energy sources such as wind and solar, to using landscaping that preserves the natural environment, or using less plastic, we all have opportunities to make a difference. And that also means local policy matters.

As it stands now, the city’s draft Climate Action and Adaptation Plan is an imperfect document. But it is aspirational and an opportunity for local leaders to think about how this community wants to evolve in a way that is good for the Earth and good for business. The two need not be mutually exclusive.

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