As the CEO of The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, one of my responsibilities is to stay abreast of the latest conservation research to help ensure that our educational message is accurate and up to date.
A scientific paper that crossed my desk recently summed up the human-caused pressures on the natural world in a way that is hard to ignore.
Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science and the California Institute of Technology estimated the biomass of all the living things on Earth and the results are eye opening. Of all the biomass of mammals currently living on Earth, 36 percent are humans, 60 percent are livestock (primarily cows and pigs) and only 4 percent are wild mammals. Of all the birds in the world, 70 percent are chickens and other poultry and only 30 percent are wild birds.
It is clear that over the last few centuries, human population growth and the way we feed ourselves has dramatically changed the natural world in a way that may not be sustainable.
Currently, the human population is 7.7 billion people and although the rate of increase is slowing, future population estimates are increasing. The United Nations estimates the world’s population will be 10 billion by the year 2055. To put this in perspective, this is equivalent to adding the population of New York City every month of every year for the next 36 years.
The needs for housing, food, and consumption of natural resources to support this population growth will only exacerbate an already deteriorating planet. Clearly, this path does not lead to a sustainable future and we must change.
In simple terms, there are more people using more resources than the Earth can support over the long run. As a species that prides itself in creative thinking and planning for the future, we need to change our trajectory.
While the magnitude of the problem seems daunting and there is only so much that one individual can do, our collective efforts will be needed to make a difference.
The good news? There is a better path forward. We know the problems, we have the solutions, and we can change.
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It is well documented that as education rates go up, birth rates go down. Let’s work to stabilize the human population and reduce our impact as quickly
Accelerating the use of green technology and transitioning away from burning fossil fuels will help the economy and give us unlimited energy, and clean air and water. Let’s work hard to protect our remaining natural wealth that provides for us.
Will we change? What is stopping us from altering our path towards a healthy and sustainable world?
Humans think in the now and it is hard to focus on a long-term problem that is not immediately pressing. We need to share the message about the Earth’s imbalance and how we can co-exist with nature.
Our goal at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is to educate guests about the natural world so they can make better decisions on the use of our resources. If enough people get the message of the path to sustainability, we have a chance to protect our planet and all the animals and plants who call it home.