Marching Against The Sixth Great Extinction

Marching Against Extinction

This morning in Los Angeles, empowered by the Zulu legend of Shongolulu, we marched from the La Brea Tar Pits to the South African Consulate where my friend Ellen Ericksen hand delivered a letter demanding an end to ivory trade in Africa.

Kenya is leading the fight for a total ban on ivory trading at the UN Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Ivory trading has been banned internationally but not in Africa.

Before Europeans, there were an estimated 20 million stupendous elephants roaming the African continent. By 1970, that number plummeted to 1.3 million. In January, my colleagues estimated there were 700,000 remaining elephants. A very recent survey funded by nature lover and co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen found only 352,271 elephants left.

Between 2007-2014, 144,000 elephants were poached, or 56 every day. Before elephants are dead, heartless poachers hack off their faces to get at the ivory.

Poachers receive a couple hundred dollars per elephant — middlemen — and organized crime makes millions of dollars on the black market.

China is the No. 1 destination for ivory. America is the second-biggest marketplace for elephant ivory.

Elephants are extraordinary creatures. They bury their dead. They weep and mourn the loss of family members. Elephants can live for 80 years. Female elephants drive the society just like female whales do.

Have you ever seen two elephants greet one another? It is an unforgettable experience.

Elephants communicate with subsonic sound, which travels over the land faster than sound through the air; their feet and trunks pick-up communications.

Elephants create water holes for all life. Elephants create trails that act as fire blocks.

One elephant can bring an entire village $1.6 million in ecotourism.

African elephants face extinction by 2030 unless strict laws and around the clock enforcement occur right now.

Nature is in a tailspin from humans destroying her on every front — on land and under the sea.

Since 1970, half of all land wildlife is gone. In North America alone, over 1.5 billion birds are missing.

The climate in crisis from burning subsidized, climate-altering fossil fuels has raised temperatures by that much around the globe; forests are collapsing on all forested continents. North America is missing over 30 billion mature pines and spruce from heat waves, droughts and trillions of indigenous bark beetles. Those mountain forests were invaluable as bastions of fresh water, the lifeblood of Earth.

Burning coal has tripled mercury poisoning in the oceans in over four decades, to over 80,000 metric tons. There is so much toxic mercury vapor in the atmosphere, it is raining onto the West Coast of America. The soils, fresh water, fish, wildlife, birds, plants and trees are full of deadly nerve poisons.

The oceans are stuffed full of as many as 51 trillion pieces of petroleum-based plastics and supercharged with 300 zeta joules of heat from burning fossil fuels. A 1,200-mile stretch of Western Australian kelp forests along the Indian Ocean collapsed from a marine heat wave of 2.5c in 2011. There is no sign of recovery.

We are missing 230 million, or 70 percent, of all seabirds. No food, no birds.

The largest reef on the globe, The Great Barrier Reef, approximately the size of Italy, is dying quickly from searing 1998, 2002 and 2016 marine heat waves. The Great Barrier Reef is home to at least a million kinds of sea life. In nature, when animals lose their homes, they die.

Since 2000, almost 1.5 billion sharks have been poached for their fins and squalene, or shark liver oil. Ninety percent of many shark species are gone. Sharks have lived on Earth for over 400 million years. Sharks have never faced extinction like the Sixth Great Extinction before.

Humans are looting the oceans and all its large creatures harder and faster than ever before in the illustrious history of planet Earth.

My colleagues recently issued a warning that the human-driven Sixth Great Extinction in the ocean differs from the previous five other mass extinctions. Never before, since the dawning of reproductive life 1.1 billion years ago, have the oceans been depleted of all large species. In the past, only smaller creatures perished in their entirety. The oceans will recover from humans in many millions of years.

Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot live on a planet with dead oceans, dead forests, toxic fresh water from fossil fuel poisoning and no wildlife.

There’s only one way that 7.4 billion procreating humans can live on our planet. We require living oceans and forests to breathe. It is time for a truce with the Animal Kingdom allowing nature to survive — our life support systems.

The single biggest thing each of us can do right now to fight the climate in crisis and protect the remaining living forests and oceans is to switch to a plant-based diet. It is easy, water-smart, healthy and compassionate. Animal agriculture contributes at least 18 percent of the climate-altering greenhouse gases and that is more than all transportation globally.

Save nature now!

Earth Doctor Reese Halter’s upcoming book is “The Anthropocene: Age of Climate Instability.”