One million plants and animals face extinction and we’re to blame

UN report reveals climate change, among other human-causes factors, will cause us to say bye-bye to innocent creatures of the Earth

More stories from Rebecca Mennecke


Photo by NBC News

If we don’t do something soon about climate change, the beautiful coral reefs of the ocean face extinction.

Nature is deteriorating at an “unprecedented” rate as a result of human behavior, according to a recent U.N. report released on Monday — with over one million species of plants and animals facing the risk of extinction.

And yet, humans couldn’t care less about the planet.

This needs to change. Quickly.

In the three years since the study was conducted, the total number of wild animals in a given area has declined by 82 percent, the area of the average ecosystem has been sliced in half and one million plant and animal lives are at stake, according to The Guardian.

Furthermore, the ocean has warmed 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial temperatures, according to the Washington Post, and this is causing a massive loss of coral reefs.

If the ocean warms another 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit, these reefs will diminish by 70 to 90 percent. If it warms another 1.8 degrees, 99 percent of global coral will be endangered, according to an article by CNN.

The report also detailed how Bengal tigers — one of my favorite animals on the face of this planet — are at a high risk of being completely wiped out due to climate change.

The study is more than just alarming: it’s terrifying. We are senselessly murdering a million — I will repeat, a million! — creatures of this planet simply because humans are too lazy and greedy to consider changing their habits. It’s pathetic.

It pleases me to no end to see France’s government vow to take measures to protect our planet.

But, the silence on behalf of the United States, the biggest carbon polluter in the world and the second most polluting country in the world, is eerie.

Last year, Trump announced he didn’t believe a report on climate change.

Though Barack Obama entered the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, Trump decided to abandon it in 2017. He’s representative of a country that doesn’t know — and doesn’t care — about climate change.

The reality of this ignorance and indifference can be seen at UW-Eau Claire, with students not bothering to sort recycling, trash and compost. It breaks my heart every time I see something in the trash that could be in the recycling. I wonder if people even realize where that trash goes — the landfill — where it will sit for eternity.

One of the things Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist, said about climate change is that we need to think about it locally.

Here are a few things people can do to think about climate change on a local level and keep the planet looking green:

  • Think about your commute. Consider taking the bus, biking or walking instead of driving everywhere.
  • Eat green. Think about cutting meat (Not all of it! Just some.) Consider buying groceries more frequently (carpool!) and with less bulk-buying to eliminate food waste. Or, try starting a garden.
  • Invest in renewable energy. The library rents out solar chargers! Now that the weather is sunnier, it’s time to unplug from wall ports and plug into solar energy.
  • Be energy efficient. Try to wear clothes more than once and do laundry less often, hang clothes to dry instead of using a machine, unplug appliances when finished, open the windows instead of using the A/C or heating and use energy-efficient lightbulbs.
  • Use less water. Turn off the shower when you wash. Only shower every other day.  
  • Use reusables. Stop using plastic water bottles and consider purchasing a reusable water bottle. Think about things (like toothbrushes and plastic bags) that are thrown away after a single or a few uses and debate switching to reusable alternatives.
  • Compost. The Student Office of Sustainability does great work here on campus to try to keep our campus thinking green. Let’s help them by learning how to properly sort the university’s waste.
  • Turn off the lights. It drives me nuts when people turn on the lights and don’t turn them off when they leave. Seriously, just turn them off.
  • Eat local foods. Shipping food from all over forces businesses to use more gas. Consider shopping at the local farmers market.
  • Don’t spray weeds or use pesticides. They kill the bees. Don’t kill the bees, please.
  • Think about the products. Consider whether these products are safe to use, whether they have chemicals that could damage the planet or if they are kept in recyclable or reusable containers.
  • Vote. Support people who support taking initiatives against climate change.

We need to consider anything and everything to stop the death of one million species. It starts with us.

Mennecke can be reached at [email protected].


Editor’s note: A previous version of this article implied exclusively climate change is responsible for loss of life in the ecosystem. This has been updated to reflect multiple factors playing a role in the endangerment of species.