The global community has been sent a series of wake-up calls lately: the environmental crisis spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, unprecedented droughts in China, and a report outlining the disastrous impacts of the world's collapsing biodiversity. If events like these still don't send the world into action, I have to wonder what kind of devastating catastrophe finally will. Our environment is an issue facing each and every one of us, thus it will require a proactive response from all corners of the world. Let's not miss the opportunity for these tragedies to serve as a call of action to both our country, and the global community, towards a focus on a safer, healthier, and stronger planet. We, along with our partner Rainforest Alliance, hope you will help in the fight to ensure that the recent environmental tragedies we've seen become a thing of the past.
Sending an urgent call for international action is the UN's Third Global Biodiversity Outlook Report, stating how "our natural support systems are on the verge of collapsing unless radical changes are made to preserve the world's biodiversity". The report highlights the main causes behind biodiversity loss, the ecosystems close to the point of irreparable damage, and the role that government needs to play in making this issue a priority. Making the significance of this crisis even clearer, the report also states what we have to gain:
Ending biodiversity loss will help in the fight against poverty and hunger, while improving human health, security, and wealth for the current and future generations."
However, as the UN calls for "a new vision for biological diversity for a healthy planet and a sustainable future for humankind", a new shopping mall boom in Brazil is becoming the latest threat to the Amazon rainforest, with four of the five largest cities in Brazil have made plans to build American-style shopping malls by the end of next year. This trend reflects not only Brazil's increasing economic growth, but also the challenge in "creating a model of sustainable economic development that includes the people who live in the forest". But combining economic growth with environmental values is not impossible. Made clear in Kenya, where the Kakamega Environmental Education Program (KEEP), a community group with leaders who were once poachers, has "worked out alternative incomes from the forest in a bid to save this fragile ecosystem".
In China, Yunnan's severe drought is one more reminder of the future climate threats we can expect if we continue living the way we do today. According to scientists, "the crisis marks one of the strongest case studies so far of how climate change and poor environmental practice can combine to create a disaster", specifically, the impact of large-scale deforestation and poor water management. But researchers are being adamant learning everything they can from this year's doubt, in hopes of being "better prepared when the next natural disaster strikes".
Closer to home, not everyone is sharing the commitment to learning from the past. While the oil spill in the Gulf may have brought a heightened focus to the broader issue at play - the danger that our dependence on fossil fuels creates for both our coasts and our health - BP doesn't seem to be addressing the concern. As seen by the oil company's announcement that it would continue its plan to build an oil sands pipeline to the British Columbian coast - a project which creates the "risks of a major oil spill, endangering salmon, bears and all wildlife" that calls the Great Bear Rainforest home.
Let's not wait for another environmental crisis to hit before we realize the severity of the issues facing our planet. The predictions of what lies ahead for our ecosystems and our health is not set in stone; so call on yourself, your community and your leaders to make the choices that will set us on the path for a sustainable and brighter future. Visit the Rainforest Alliance Facebook page to continue the conversation and stay informed on the latest issues facing the Rainforest.