Defending the kingdom | Issue 27

Defending the kingdom | Issue 27

Extinguishing the kingdom

What did you do in the last 15 minutes? Walk to Uni, waste time on facebook, take a long shower that annoyed your flatties? 15 minutes feels eternal from a Monday morning lecture theatre, but in the grand scheme it’s a fraction of a microsecond. Yet every 15 minutes something happens that is very significant in the grand scheme.

On average, a species on planet earth becomes extinct every 15 minutes. That’s four an hour, and nearly a hundred per day. That’s 35,040 a year. Just forget who favourited your latest Tweet for a second and let that sink in – 350,400 over the next ten years if this keeps up (this is a moderate estimate – conservative estimates consist of 50 a day, extreme ones of up to 150). And if you believe World Wildlife Fund, who published an article in The Guardian last week, then you’ll be shocked to know that in the past 40 years earth has lost half of its wildlife.

But why has this happened? What on this rapidly depleting earth could have possibly gone so frighteningly, horrifically wrong? WWF attributes it to a number of sources. Climate change accounts for seven per cent of the species that have become extinct, and habitat degradation or change for another 31 per cent. Total loss of habitat counts for another 13 per cent of the species lost, and “other” for another 11 per cent. However, the overwhelming reason attributable to this huge reduction in animal species is exploitation, the cause that accounts for a whopping 37 per cent of the species that are now gone forever. “Exploitation” here doesn’t imply paying children six cents a day to slave away in a sweatshop somewhere in Asia. But it is synonymous with “capitalisation” – it has to do with the act of making use and benefiting from resources. In short, consumerism is killing.

And we can’t forget the astounding amounts of rubbish we are producing, which is also contributing to all of this. According to National Geographic, Americans produced 251 million tons of trash in 2006 (this is the most recent Environmental Protection Agency record available). Over half of this ended up in landfill. Particularly in the Western world, we are poisoning our planet and the other beautiful living creatures we are so lucky to share it with.

The human global population has boomed in the last 40 years. According to Geohive, in 1964 the global population was around 3.25 billion. As you read this, it’s well over 7.25 billion and growing all the time. You’ve read my angry rants about how supply and demand is ruining our morality – cheap eggs from fucking miserable tortured hens, anyone?? Coupled with this population growth, we are running our planet into the ground. Maybe if we all worked on being a little less demanding, and a little more responsible and thoughtful with our actions, we won’t see dolphins, deer and dugong dying like the dinosaurs and the dodo. Is it really worth your new iPhone 6? I guess it does have a slightly bigger screen. What the fuck does ruining the earth matter if you have that.
This article first appeared in Issue 27, 2014.
Posted 11:58pm Sunday 12th October 2014 by Elisabeth Larsen.