Wolf pup and mother
“Perhaps the biggest threat for many species is direct hunting driven by a demand for meat, pets, and body parts for traditional medicines and ornaments.” ~ Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, Wildlife Conservation Society’s vice president of species conservation
We need massive transformational change in human consciousness. We are out of balance. Like Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, we have acted like abusive teenagers, grabbing what we want on an increasingly fragile planet. It is urgent that we get real and grow up.
Fast-accelerating extinctions are endangering our human species and we may not survive the mass extinction we are forcing. Our sense of entitlement reflects a psychopathic way of being in this world — psychopathy defined as lack of empathy and remorse.
A July 2016 report in Science Daily, authored by the Wildlife Conservation Society, is headlined: “60% of Large Wild Animal Species Threatened With Extinction.” It says:
“Approximately 59 percent of the world’s biggest mammalian carnivore species — including the tiger — and 60 percent of the largest herbivores are now listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species as threatened with extinction.
“‘Perhaps the biggest threat for many species is direct hunting driven by a demand for meat, pets, and body parts for traditional medicines and ornaments,’ said Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, WCS’s Vice President of Species Conservation and a co-author on the study. ‘Only a massive commitment from the international community will stop this rampant destruction of so many animal populations.’”
Hunting and trapping for the elite few can no longer be tolerated. Only we the majority can push legislators to act now.
All of these species work critical roles in their ecosystems. William Ripple, professor of ecology at Oregon State University and lead author of the study, warns us yet again in the report: “The more I look at the trends facing the world’s largest terrestrial mammals, the more concerned I am we could lose these animals just as science is discovering how important they are to ecosystems and to the services they provide for people.”
The punishment for little old short-sighted, self-centered us is built in. A glimpse of the cost can be seen on one extinction web site, where you can access the articles below, among hundreds of others:
MASS EXTINCTION CONFIRMED, WITH MANY SPECIES — INCLUDING HUMANS — LABELLED “THE WALKING DEAD” (U.K. Independent/American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2015)
UN: ACCELERATING BIODIVERSITY LOSS A “FUNDAMENTAL THREAT” TO “SURVIVAL OF HUMANKIND” (U.N./IPBES, 2013)
HUMAN ACTIVITY HAS PUSHED EARTH BEYOND 4 OF 9 “PLANETARY BOUNDARIES” INCLUDING SPECIES EXTINCTION RATE (Washington Post, 2015)
EARTH HAS LOST 50% OF ITS WILDLIFE IN PAST 40 YEARS (WWF, 2014)
POPULATION OF AFRICAN ELEPHANTS CRASHES 30% IN JUST SEVEN YEARS, 2007-2014 (Washington Post, 2016)
POPULATION OF EASTERN GORILLA HAS CRASHED 70% IN LAST 20 YEARS (U.K. Guardian, 2016)
WORLD’S SEABIRD POPULATIONS PLUMMET 70% IN 60 YEARS (U.K. Guardian, 2015)
SALT-WATER FISH EXTINCTION SEEN BY 2048 (Science Magazine. 2014) (DEAD OCEANS)
E.O. WILSON, HARVARD: CURRENT RATE OF HUMAN ACTIVITY WILL RESULT IN 50% OF ALL SPECIES EXTINCT BY 2100. “I DON’T THINK THE WORLD CAN SUSTAIN THIS. DON’T SAVE THE BIOSPHERE AND WE’RE DOOMING OURSELVES.” (U.K. Times, 2014),
UN: EARTH’S ENVIRONMENTAL SYSTEMS PUSHED TO BIOPHYSICAL LIMITS — SUDDEN, IRREVERSIBLE, POTENTIALLY CATASTROPHIC CHANGES LOOMING (CBS/United Nations, 2012)
SCIENTISTS WARN EARTH’S ENTIRE BIOSPHERE NEARING CATASTROPHIC “TIPPING POINT” (Nature, 2012)
OCEAN ACIDIFICATION AT HIGHEST LEVELS IN 300 MILLION YEARS — MASS EXTINCTION “MAY BE INEVITABLE” (U.K. Guardian, 2013)
ONE-FIFTH OF ALL INVERTEBRATE SPECIES FACING EXTINCTION: “EXTINCTION OF HUMANS COULD SOON FOLLOW” (IUCN/Zoological Society of London, 2012)
MORE THAN A THIRD OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRD SPECIES FACE EXTINCTION RISK (Washington Post, 2016)
ONE QUARTER OF WORLD’S MARINE SPECIES IN DANGER OF EXTINCTION (U.K. Independent, 2015)
HALF OF ALL TREE SPECIES IN AMAZON FACE EXTINCTION (BBC, 2015)
WORLD’S ECOSYSTEMS AT RISK OF COLLAPSE — TIPPING POINTS NEAR (United Nations, 2010)
IUCN RED LIST ANALYSIS: “LIFE ON EARTH IS UNDER SERIOUS THREAT” (IUCN, 2009)
The state of Wisconsin is accelerating has-been traditions of animal agriculture, dairy farming, hunting and trapping — all part of the wanton destruction threatening us all. We are being called to become compassionate and fair in our dealings with other beings.
Here is where the wisdom of the wolf can guide us.
Wolves are balancers.
We need more than a token wolf population on the land to balance the out-of-control number of “livestock” being fed with slashed rain forests, razed biodiversity and barren monocultures. Wolves need our support to mitigate humans ranching cattle on public lands, depleting ancient aquifers, farming for artificially high deer populations, and diverting rivers to irrigate crops to feed animals. Wolves even change rivers.
Humans “predate” on livestock. Farmers are compensated for lost profits if a wolf kills livestock, but wolves are killed for conducting real survival hunting with their ancient skills and instincts — providing for themselves and their families. It is cattle and “livestock,” hoarded and suffering, that are forced to be an unnatural major cause of climate change (52 percent of the cause, according to intensive studies by Worldwatch Institute.)
Increasingly militaristic, over-populated, competitive and domineering, human beings have overstepped the bounds of ecological sanity into a netherworld of wanting more and having less to take — and taking more anyway. Human biases, casually accepted massive cruelty, and ignorance are destroying our only home.
We who know the scope of this grieve the harm done.
The ground has shifted rapidly under our feet and we are slow to realize that we are not rulers, but subjects of the natural world we are rapidly destroying. It is we who depend upon the integrity of a world in balance. It means finally growing up to respect and care tenderly for all animal lives — their bodies, their cultures, their contributions and their way of life intact. Let them be. They weave the world together for us.
What a joy that world could be.
Let’s work to make our public lands trap free by signing these petitions:
Help us fight for your health and democratic rights.
This column was originally published in the Madison CapTimes on October 23, 2016