pollution and habitat loss as driver of change

Pollution and habitat loss challenge our survival and thrive

Drawings and text by Frits Ahlefeldt, Hiking.org

The species we share this planet with are under very serious stress, both from pollution and habitat-loss. Earth is loosing biodiversity, forests, wetlands, rivers and a lot of other landscape-types at an alarming speed, and with them all the different lifeforms, plant and animal-species that was finely adapted to and evolved over million of years to live exactly in these areas. It is estimated that within the next 100 years more than half of all species will die out because of us, if we don’t change our ways

Today animal and plant species are dying out at a rate faster than humans have ever witnessed, experts estimate at a rate 1000-10.000 times above the normal pace. And it is us humans that are pushing what has been called “the sixth wave of global extinction” by biologists and other experts (link: nat.geo ) and our shared planet has not seen anything like our impact since a huge meteor hit Earth 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs )

Pollution and habitat loss are both global challenges, and as our human needs and greed grows and we put our eyes on how to drive profit and products out of any and every inch of the planet,  The result is that all over the planet the curve of endangered habitats and species dying out has gone through the roof.

Global pollution

Everywhere today, landscapes,  oceans and the air is becoming more and more polluted as our global needs and numbers explode.  We produce more and more cars, houses, gadgets and other products, with a shorter and shorter lifespan. The products we use today are produced further and further away, by larger and larger factories, and  gets the products gets more and more complex and can less and less be repaired. Instead they needs to be replaced faster and faster with new, even more complex and polluting products.

Both the production, the shipping, the use and the waste from all these products and activities are drowning our planet in waste and pollution today. And as a result both our thrive and the well-being of the other species and all ecosystems on Earth are challenged like never before. Mutating, infected, dying and desperate is the state of more and more places, and species that used to be strong and thriving.

A global shift in how land, food and water is owned and managed

With pollution and habitat loss often follows a short period of increased farmland, and food production as we, with our huge machines and technology squeeze the last drops of growth, nourishment, and profit out of these areas to feed the rising urban and rich population of communication managers, investment experts, bankers, social media experts, stress and thrive consultants.

Landgrabbing

In the last 20 years both rich countries and huge companies has started to buy up huge land areas in poor countries to secure their own profit and populations ( link) And when the land change hands from being owned and farmed by locals to instead be owned and run by huge companies for profit a lot of things change. The locals are replaced by machines, the scale of the production goes from small lots, to endless  mono-cultures of gene-modified, intensively driven commercial species.

Most of the large global food producing companies are controlled by far-away stock-owners, that are only interested in earning as much as possible, in a short time from the land. And with very little care for the long term thrive of the land, locals or biodiversity. The new owners live on other continents, in protected mansions, castles, or offshore, permanently on yachts, ready to move their money between where-ever profit is higher and taxes lower.

Today, in many places, the locals are pushed to the brink of survival, taking any work and any hand and any food, including poaching endangered species and ripping protective mangrove forests, wetlands and mountain-forests that stopped flooding and erosion from washing whole communities into the oceans.  The locals often have no choice but to take the jobs and food they are offered,  accepting options that will just pull them further into desperation tomorrow, to feed their children today.

Destroying the life-supporting abilities of the landscapes

With an exploding amount of humans on the planet we are changing all the landscapes to fit our needs. We clear nature to make fields and empty the rivers to irrigate them, and the most saddening situation is that the better the land is for biodiversity and life, the more we want to live there, and the more we destroy it to make way for our booming cities, surrounding farmlands, four lane highways, spoiled resort areas, golf fields, urban sprawl, mines, industry and waste dumping grounds.

The way we live make none of these areas much suited for other species than us, and can’t sustain any other biodiversity than what is closely adapted to live in the shadows of humans.

Hiking as inspiration for a different lifestyle: simple living

Pollution and habitat destruction is closely linked to using more than enough and a life where you can buy more than you can carry. By going back to a more simple way of life, and more nomadic inspired logic, of using only what you can carry, we can reduce our global and personal needs a lot – and with it reduce the pollution coming from the lifestyle of having a lot more than you can carry.

hiking help create green corridors

Hiking trails can be designed in ways that facilitate and support many other species than us. Both animals and plants can use them, to connect the few last patches of natural habitat on the planet to a healing network, that can grow into a much stronger web of habitats, that both humans and other species can benefit from and thrive in.

 Hiking reconnect us to a help us learn about nature

We are becoming nature illiterate, and today very few people recognize more than a handful of local plant species, animals or bird voices. We can benefit a lot from re-connecting to nature and the outdoors.

When we learn to see all the different details and learn about all the logic in the habitats that are around us, the chances are much better that we will look after them and take care of life in the forests, wetlands and oceans around us. Instead of polluting and destroying them by using a lot of products we don’t really need and that won’t bring any of us any closer to what we all want:  Living good and healthy, fulfilling lives on a thriving planet.