Ten Ways You Can Be A Superhero To Prevent Species Extinction
Species extinction is horrible, but you can do something wonderful
Every day, as their alarms are drowned out by political outrages and fears, many animals and plants are lost forever from planet Earth. Extinction is a crisis as serious as — and connected to — climate change. A warming planet heavy with billions of people, depends upon ever-increasing amounts of energy, farm land, marine reefs and fisheries, and housing needs. Throw in developing nations clamoring for cars, computers, meat and monocultures, and it feels overwhelming. But, you can, and DO change the world each day, so change it for the better.
Each of us, if we consume to live, should celebrate nature’s bounty even as we recognize each of us has a personal responsibility to protect all that makes life possible. Here are a few personal actions you can take, for your own peace of mind, empowerment, and the good of the planet.
— Think of air as something that gives you life, breathe it deeply, mindfully, and gratefully. Once a day, look at a plant, tree, or even a blade of grass and see it as the journey-work of the stars. Since we too, are star-stuff, so too is the host of living beings to which you belong.
— Know your hunger and thirst for fairness, freedom and a finer world can be as literal as it is an ideal. If you are vaguely aware of slave labor, starving masses, inequality or over-consumption by the ‘haves’ at the expense of the ‘have-nots’ reach out beyond your comfort level to someone nearby who deserves a voice. Talk to others seeking righteousness. Share with them. Thank them. They are closer than you think.
For example, inequality may create more suffering for women or children in Pakistan or Bangladesh, but your awareness of insidious sexism anywhere demands women and men, boys and girls everywhere defend principles of fairness in your home, in your schools, and in your place of work. Those telling you sexism or racism is ‘solved’ where you live do not recognize the empowerment to be gained by starting in small circles and expanding ever-outward with Einstein’s famous “circles of compassion.”
— Take every opportunity to connect to the physical and real world that is in peril if we ignore it. This gives you a relaxing and rewarding way to see the biosphere that gives life to you each day, as well as empowering you to belong and be a vital part of life’s web of cooperation. Hear running rivers, watch soaring birds, breathe the scent of trees and flowers, feel light or coolness on your skin.
If we only keep a vague and discomforting idea in our head that some ‘idiot in China’ is behind false medicinal claims for rhino horn or the more than 10,000 ‘battery bears’ imprisoned for their bile, we are scapegoating others with energy that could be used for helping plant trees or to restore habitat upon your own little piece of the map. You will be happier being empowered, than you will be by blaming someone else.
— Turn off all devices for at least thirty minutes each day. You can re-energize just by stepping away from all screens. Turn off all devices for at least thirty minutes each day. Cherish this time, share it with others if possible. Take an outdoor ‘power’ nap if your climate allows for it. Stroll with a pet, or observe the wild life living their full and personal lives just as you do.
— Get away from the man-made noise that grinds up precious seconds of your day and devours quietude. Pull out the ear buds, seek out natural sounds while you are inspired to realize so many other living beings from trees to breeze, from raindrops falling to birds that are calling, also deserve the life that gives us life.
— Make a mental note of all you consume, then encourage yourself to reduce, re -use, recycle and recycle. Don’t criticize yourself or others for the back-sliding we all do. Most of us know that even if the EPA were destroyed today, being wasteful is selfish and wrong. Visualize forests every time you save paper. Print on both sides. Switch to cloth napkins when you dine, or carry a handkerchief to ignore or refuse any paper ones that people give you. Don’t try to proselytize. Just find one personal little quirk like this and do it.
— Seek variety, in food, in cultures, in music, in the company you keep, in your own richly diversified area. Join a local group that favors your favorite animal, habitat, or pet project.
Humankind does not live by bread alone, but for whatever type of regional bread you prefer, even that demands biodiversity, which in turn requires birds, bees, plants and animals and their habitats. Shop locally and get to know your area and what it creates, and those people and others that share your desire for connection. If you can’t go vegan, go vegetarian. If you can’t go vegetarian, go flexitarian (meat 1–3x per week). If you can’t go flex, at least go grass fed. Consider that your values can align with every choice you make.
— Do find your passion and whip it up into an activity. It’s what the world needs right now, grass roots, literally and figuratively, to care enough about the living world to protect who and what we love in that world.
Let’s say your passion is equality. If so, you already know that exploitation and destruction happen to the most vulnerable of plants, animals, cultures, and indigenous nations. John Knox, appointed by the U.N. to evaluate biodiversity and how it affects human rights, has reported in Geneva, Switzerland that a resolution to protect biodiversity will be considered by the end of March, just in time for Earth Day in April.
Biodiversity affects every human being, each of whom needs clean water, soil, food, and air to survive. But, the less rights one is granted, the more our most vulnerable bear the brunt of most depletions. Rain forests, for example, provide biodiversity, medicine and clean air, water, and cultures, but disappear at a rate of 86,400 acres per day. Equality matters in this cause.
— Share nature shows and programs, and learn all you can about your favorite animal or place. Join or start a conservation effort and make that lion, or tiger, or bear — oh my — your mascot, or power place. Follow progress being made there. Make it your personal spirit or vision-quest without needing to appropriate such a cause from anyone else. Instead, join others with humility.
— Know that the creation is full of miracles, and that progress has been made since the first Earth Day. March for science, this year if you can. Know that you too, are a miracle, and that each choice you make each day that you live actually does matter.
We may not get to indivisible kinship with the larger world overnight, but let us make every effort. The complex and cooperative network that provides these things is under siege, but your contribution, including your personal empowerment to take personal steps does make a difference.