Who are we to mess with planet Earth?

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Ryan Huling

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With a world on the brink of extinction, was it ever our right to affect it like this?

Photo by Savannah Jo Reeves

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In case you weren’t aware, we live on a planet that is dying … kind of.

Coral reefs are dying, bees are dying and the oceans are being pumped with an alarming amount of oil every day, about 90 thousand barrels. In 2015, 9.8 gigatons of carbon emissions were released into the atmosphere.

The list could go on, but to make it short, humans are negatively affecting the world’s environment — and fast. Sure, the dinosaurs didn’t have a calm extinction to their species and no humans would be to blame for that, which makes me wonder what gives us the right to do with the world what we wish.

Merriam-Webster defines “wilderness” as “a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings” or “an area essentially undisturbed by human activity together with its naturally developed life community.” Essentially, anything touched or upset by humans is no longer wild.

University of Queensland, Australia, conservation biologist James Watson and his colleagues conducted a study to find how much of the world is still wild. Their study found only 23 percent of the world is still wild, excluding Antarctica. 87 percent of the world’s oceans have already been affected beyond staying wild.

About 70 percent of the wilderness is concentrated in five countries: Russia, Canada, Australia, Brazil and the United States. We, as a human population, have taken more than 60 percent of the world and converted it for livestock and crop use in the last century.

Today, 77 percent of the world is used to grow crops and raise livestock.

When it comes to a wild world, Earth has lost it. It is barely here anymore. Whether you think of it as good or bad, humans have made an immense impact on the planet.

Animals have taken a toll when it comes to how wild they are.

There are more than 10,000 zoos worldwide. While many zoos are supportive of conservation and the salvation of species, their existence takes away from the amount of wilderness left. These animals are growing up in captivity and their lives have been drastically manipulated.

More than that, human interference in the world have caused a high increase in species extinction. Experts have said the extinction rate that we witness today has increased between 1,000 and 10,000 times more than the natural extinction rate.

This may feel like a lot to take in.

The Tasmanian tiger and the California grizzly bear can’t come back just because we feel bad, but the polar bears and bees might stay around a lot longer if we’re careful.

In February of 2014, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Elizabeth Kolbert released a book titled “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History,” which detailed the idea that we are living during an extinction that we caused.

See, 65 million years ago, the dinosaurs went extinct due to a six-mile-wide asteroid that struck near the Yucatan Peninsula traveling at 45,000 miles an hour.

It took a whole meteor to wipe out the dinosaurs and yet humans have become it’s slow and merciless sibling.

It may not have a fancy name or seem that threatening, but humans are causing the extinction which is threatening and causing species to die at extreme rates. Carbon emissions, using plastic, drilling and spilling oil, using pesticides and rolling back the boundaries on national parks; all of these are killing the planet we live on today.

We have upset a delicate balance that was fostering millions of species by driving cars across its beautiful landscapes and stealing what wilderness was not ours. If it is to stop, we need to band together and pull back on what is causing our world to die.

If “The Lion King” taught me anything, it’s that everything exists within the circle of life. There lies a delicate balance that keeps creatures, plants, species, our whole world flourishing. Where the world sits right now, I’m convinced the circle is beyond broken.

Protect our only home. That’s my two cents.

Huling can be reached at [email protected]

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