How Can We Stop The Sixth Mass Extinction?

By Neenah Payne

Dr. Zach Bush’s Urgent Prescription To Save America shows that Dr. Zach Bush warns that we are in the Sixth Great Extinction now and human survival depends on the urgent restoration of our soils to provide the foods we need. We have just six inches of top soil left — enough to grow food for just 60 years! Now 12 million species are as risk of going extinct. The bird, bees, fish, whales, dolphins, and many others are in serious trouble.

Water Is Life Festival: September 4 reports on how desperate the situation is now as California (which provides most of America’s fruits and vegetables) is going through a record drought. Lake Meade is drying up — threatening several states in the Southwest now.

The Story of the Buffalo Is America’s Story shows that in the 19th century, the buffalo were almost wiped out. From 30-70 million, they were reduced to just 23 individuals. Why We Need Beavers — Nature’s Carpenters and Plumbers explains that beavers were almost driven to extinction to provide fur hats for men. Yet, beavers are a “keystone species” that help prevent forest fires, floods, and droughts and they provide homes for 60 species. If California had not killed all its beavers, it might not be subject to a catastrophic “fire season” every year now and a devastating drought.

Thomas Downing: New York’s Oyster King!  explains that New York used to be the oyster capital of the world, but the oysters were almost driven to extinction. New York’s Ambitious Billion Oyster Project shows that efforts are  being made to return a billion oysters to New York Harbor by 2035. It turns out that oysters are another “keystone species” that help clean the water, provide homes and foods for many other species, and protect coasts from storms.

Return To Nature In The COVID Era explains how returning wolves to Yellowstone National Park quickly restored the ecosystem in multiple ways.

The key to stopping the Sixth Mass Extinction is changing our minds, our worldview.

Our Worldview Threatens Life on Earth

Humans are causing life on Earth to vanish

“Ecosystems, the fabric of life on which we all depend, are declining rapidly because of human actions. But there is still time to save them. Human pressure on nature has soared since the 1970s. We have been using more and more natural resources, and this has come at a cost.

If we lose large portions of the natural world, human quality of life will be severely reduced and the lives of future generations will be threatened unless effective action is taken. Over the last 50 years, nature’s capacity to support us has plummeted. Air and water quality are reducing, soils are depleting, crops are short of pollinators, and coasts are less protected from storms….

Prof Andy Purvis, a Museum research leader, has spent three years studying human interactions with nature. Alongside experts from more than 50 different countries, he has produced the most comprehensive review ever of the worldwide state of nature, with a summary published in the journal Science….The latest report paints a shocking picture. We are changing nature on a global scale and the impacts of our actions are being distributed unequally. ‘It was terrifying to see how close we are to playing Russian roulette with the only world we have,’ says Andy. ‘But it’s also been inspiring, because there is a way out of this.  What has given hope to the many scientists who worked on this report has been the way the public are fully aware of the dangers and want action. We just need to make sure the politicians remember that too.‘….

For example, vast areas of land managed by Indigenous Peoples are experiencing a decline in ecosystems at a slower rate than everywhere else. But the rights of Indigenous Peoples are being threatened, which could result in faster deterioration of these areas. This would have a detrimental impact on wider ecosystems and societies….

‘Before the Industrial Revolution, people had to look after the environment around them because that’s where they got their products from,’ says Andy. ‘If they didn’t look after it, they would face the consequences. Now with globalisation, we have massive environmental impacts a long way from where we live. But we are insulated from these impacts, so they are abstract to us.‘…

Combating the loss of ecosystems is going to be complex and will require a nexus approach. This means thinking about how different components of the problem such as nature, politics, and socioeconomics all interact with one another…. But in order to achieve this fully, the world needs to revaluate current political structures and societal norms, which tend not to value nature. One way of doing that is by improving existing environmental policies and regulations, as well as removing and reforming harmful policies. ‘I hope people can see that this is not a drill,’ says Andy. ‘This really is an emergency and I hope they act on it.’….

IPBES Chair Anna Maria Hernandez concludes, ‘This new article makes it even more clear that we need profound, system-wide change and that this requires urgent action from policymakers, business, communities and every individual. Working in tandem with other knowledge systems, such as Indigenous and local knowledge, science has spoken, and nobody can say that they did not know. There is literally no time to waste.’

Sixth mass extinction currently underway say scientists

The world’s obsession with economic growth is killing nature, report finds

Changing our economic system would create a fairer, healthier, more sustainable world for everyone.

Development: Time to leave GDP behind


David Suzuki’s Legacy

David Suzuki is an internationally renowned Canadian geneticist, environmentalist, author of more than 50 books, and the founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

He is the author of:

The Sacred Balance, 25th anniversary edition: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature
Wisdom of the Elders: Sacred Native Stories of Nature
The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature
The Legacy: An Elder’s Vision for Our Sustainable Future

Amazon Descriptions

The Sacred Balance has a beautiful spirit.”—E.O. Wilson

With a new foreword from Robin Wall Kimmerer, New York Times-bestselling author of Braiding Sweetgrass—and an afterword from Bill McKibben—this special 25th anniversary edition of a beloved bestseller invites readers to see ourselves as part of nature, not separate.

The world is changing at a relentless pace. How can we slow down and act from a place of respect for all living things? The Sacred Balance shows us how.  In this extensively updated new edition, David Suzuki reflects on the increasingly radical changes in science and nature—from the climate crisis to peak oil and the rise in clean energy—and examines what they mean for humankind.

He also reflects on what we have learned by listening to Indigenous leaders, whose knowledge of the natural world is profound, and whose peoples are on the frontlines of protecting land and water around the world.  Drawing on his own experiences and those of others who have put their beliefs into action, The Sacred Balance combines science, philosophy, spirituality, and Indigenous knowledge to offer concrete suggestions for creating an ecologically sustainable future by rediscovering and addressing humanity’s basic needs.

An in-depth, meticulously documented exploration of the ecological wisdom of Native Peoples from around the world. Arranged thematically, Wisdom of the Elders contains sacred stories and traditions on the interrelationships between humans and the environment as well as perspectives from modern science, which more often than not validate the sacred, ancient Wisdom of the Elders.

Native peoples and environments discussed range from the Inuit Arctic and the Native Americans of the Northwest coast, the Sioux of the Plains, and the Pueblo, Hopi, and Navajo of the Southwest to the Australian Outback, to the rich, fecund tropics of Africa, Malaysia, and the Amazon.

Our technological civilization is speeding toward a violent collision with nature, and we are threatening the ability of the Earth—our home—to support life as we know it. Suzuki and Knudtson’s extraordinary work powerfully reminds us that we are indeed one with the Earth. We are truly indebted to them for charting for us the course toward a healthy and sustaining relationship with our planet.”—Vice President Al Gore

In this extensively revised and enlarged edition of his best-selling book, David Suzuki reflects on the increasingly radical changes in nature and science — from global warming to the science behind mother/baby interactions — and examines what they mean for humankind’s place in the world. The book begins by presenting the concept of people as creatures of the Earth who depend on its gifts of air, water, soil, and sun energy.

The author explains how people are genetically programmed to crave the company of other species, and how people suffer enormously when they fail to live in harmony with them. Suzuki analyzes those deep spiritual needs, rooted in nature, that are a crucial component of a loving world. Drawing on his own experiences and those of others who have put their beliefs into action, The Sacred Balance is a powerful, passionate book with concrete suggestions for creating an ecologically sustainable, satisfying, and fair future by rediscovering and addressing humanity’s basic needs.

Deepen your connection to the natural world with this inspiring meditation, “a path to the place where science and spirit meet” (Robin Wall Kimmerer).

In this expanded version of an inspiring speech delivered in December 2009, David Suzuki reflects on how we got where we are today and presents his vision for a better future. In his living memory, Suzuki has witnessed cataclysmic changes in society and our relationship with the planet: the doubling of the world’s population, our increased ecological footprint, and massive technological growth.

Today, we are in a state of crisis, and we must join together to respond to that crisis. If we do so, Suzuki envisions a future in which we understand that we are the Earth and live accordingly. All it takes is imagination and a determination to live within our, and the planet’s, means.

This book is the culmination of David Suzuki’s amazing life and all of his knowledge, experience, and passion — it is his legacy.

Ancient Ecocentric vs Current Anthropocentric Perspective

David Suzuki Witnesses the Unraveling

Long-time environmentalist David Suzuki, of the David Suzuki Foundation. David shares how he thinks first nations and local engagement can help us through this challenging bottleneck in which we are witness to the collapse of ecosystems all around us. David also shares how he is personally coping with the unraveling.

Suzuki explains that for most of human history, people were hunter/gatherers who understood that their survival depended on the health of the Earth — the plants, trees, animals, soil, air, rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. He calls that the “Ecocentric Perspective”.  He says indigenous communities around the world still hold this view. Native Americans still see everything — including plants, animals, water, the sun, and moon — as their relatives.

Suzuki says religion broke that connection and responsibility by claiming that humanity is not like the rest of creation because we are special. He points out that during the Renaissance, scientists like Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and Renee Descartes believed the (Left) Brain and science is what defines us.

With the Industrial Revolution, Westerners began to believe, “We’re so smart, we don’t have to live within natural law”. The West shifted from an Ecocentric Perspective to an Anthropocentric Perspective in which Nature is defined in terms of “natural resources” to be exploited for profit rather than to be protected.  Suzuki explains that our religious, political, economic,  and legal systems are all anthropocentric. They are all about us — what we can get rather than about our responsibilities.

Suzuki says a report by Prof. Sir Partha Daspupta explains that the problem with our economic system is that it leaves out Nature!

Final Report – The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review

The Review calls for changes in how we think, act, and measure economic success to protect and enhance our prosperity and the natural world. Grounded in a deep understanding of ecosystem processes and how they are affected by economic activity, the new framework presented by the Review sets out how we should account for Nature in economics and decision-making.

The world’s obsession with economic growth is killing nature, report finds

Changing our economic system would create a fairer, healthier, more sustainable world for everyone.

“In the west, nature has historically been left out of economics. A major new review is hoping to change that. Eminent economist Prof Sir Partha Dasgupta has led a review into how the world’s financial systems have failed nature, and what we can do about it.  Commissioned by HM Treasury, The Dasgupta Review explains that because we rely on nature for so much (including food, water, oxygen, and a safe climate), nature is an asset to us just like roads, buildings, knowledge, and skills.

Beyond that, it’s more than just an economic asset because it also has a worth of its own. You could compare it to human health: we value our health because it allows us to lead more active lives, and also because it’s simply more pleasant to feel healthy. Likewise, we need nature to stay alive, but we also enjoy it when we experience it.

People who manage very large sums of money are sometimes called asset managers. The review argues that we are all asset managers when it comes to nature, even if we’re not farmers or fishers or foresters.  But we have managed our asset very badly. The prosperity that humans have enjoyed (on the whole) over the last few decades has come at what The Dasgupta Review calls a ‘devastating price’. The standard of living of the average person is higher than ever, but biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history.

This is partly because many countries measure progress through economic growth, the increase in the value of our national output. Governments place economic growth above all other priorities, but many have questioned how sustainable that’s going to be.  The review argues that instead of focusing on growth, countries should focus on wealth, and include nature in the list of things which might make a country or person wealthy.  It says, ‘Sustainable economic growth and development requires us to take a different path, where our engagements with nature are not only sustainable, but also enhance our collective wealth and well-being and that of our descendants.’

In the review, Prof Sir Dasgupta calls the degradation of nature an institutional failure, saying, ‘Governments almost everywhere exacerbate the problem by paying people more to exploit nature than to protect it, and to prioritise unsustainable economic activities.’

Prof Sir Dasgupta recommends three areas of change:

  1. Ensure that our demands on nature do not exceed its supply.
  2. Change the way we think about economic success.
  3. Transform our finance and education systems.

To make it easier for nature to provide for us, we need to find better, more efficient ways of farming that will both preserve wild spaces and create jobs at the same time. The world also needs to get used to the idea of consuming less and reusing, recycling, and sharing what we have much more than we do now. Governments can nudge this along with policies that change prices and behavioural norms.  Natural capital forms the bulk of wealth in low-income countries, and those on low incomes tend to rely more directly on nature, which means conserving and restoring our natural assets also contributes to alleviating poverty. Countries also need to measure their wealth differently, not using gross domestic product (GDP), but by measuring all our assets, including nature.

We all need to help each other to protect the ecosystems on which we all rely, like rainforests and oceans. Financial investments need to be channelled into activities that support and protect nature. By contrast, billions of pounds are spent each year subsidising activities that run nature down.  Plus, all of us need support in feeling connected to nature, and we need to help each other to demand change.

Prof Sir Partha says, ‘The success stories from around the world highlighted throughout the Review show us what is possible. They also demonstrate that the same ingenuity that has led us to make demands on Nature that are so large, so damaging and over such a short period, can be redeployed to bring about transformative change, perhaps even in just as short a time. We and our descendants deserve nothing less.‘”

The video begins with the statement “Let the indigenous guide us in the care of the land”. Suzuki points out that because indigenous peoples still have a relationship with the Earth, their value systems protect life. An example is the fight at Standing Rock to protect the water because Native Americans understand that water is life. So, Suzuki supports having indigenous peoples get sovereignty over the land to protect it. At about 5:51, Leila Conners, the interviewer, says indigenous people should manage 50% of the planet and points to the Nature Needs Half site.

Janine Benyus: Biomimicry

Suzuki mentions Janine Benyus, co-founder, Biomimicry Institute, who is a biologist, author, and innovation consultant. She may not have coined the term ‘biomimicry’, but she popularized it in her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. In Biomimicry, Benvus names an emerging discipline that emulates nature’s designs and processes (e.g., solar cells that mimic leaves) to create a healthier, more sustainable planet. Since the book’s release, Janine has evolved the practice of biomimicry, speaking around the world about what we can learn from the genius that surrounds us.

Amazon Description

Repackaged with a new afterword, this “valuable and entertaining” (New York Times Book Review) book explores how scientists are adapting nature’s best ideas to solve tough 21st century problems. Biomimicry is rapidly transforming life on earth. Biomimics study nature’s most successful ideas over the past 3.5 million years, and adapt them for human use. The results are revolutionizing how materials are invented and how we compute, heal ourselves, repair the environment, and feed the world.

Janine Benyus takes readers into the lab and in the field with maverick thinkers as they: discover miracle drugs by watching what chimps eat when they’re sick; learn how to create by watching spiders weave fibers; harness energy by examining how a leaf converts sunlight into fuel in trillionths of a second; and many more examples. Composed of stories of vision and invention, personalities and pipe dreams, Biomimicry is must reading for anyone interested in the shape of our future.

Janine refers people to the site

Suzuki says that in the 1970s, there was a battle over logging in the Queen’s Charlotte Islands, now called Haida Gwaii (Islands of the Haida People). Suzuki was asked to do a film about the confrontation. He learned from the Haida and wrote his book Wisdom of the Elders: Sacred Native Stories of Nature in which he tried to show that indigenous perspectives all over the world are validated by the best science.

Ancient Wisdom From Native America

My Articles About Native America in my Urban Gardens Revolutions site shows that a growing number of Native Americans are stepping forward now to help guide humanity from the brink. We just have to be wise enough now to listen and learn to follow.

Native American cultures have held onto the “Original Instructions” on how to live on Earth. See Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future. For that reason, they have been a “keystone species” for thousands of years — protecting the soil, water, plants, and animals for the next seven generations.  This worldview and connectedness to the Earth provides people with a sense of purpose, identity, and collaboration. Native Americans held onto the ancient wisdom the West lost during the Inquisition, Enlightenment, and Industrial Revolution which is needed now to guide us from the brink of destruction.

This series of articles will be updated periodically because so many Native American authors, professors, lawyers, scientists, etc. are guiding the world back to sanity now. This kind of healing wisdom is no longer found now outside indigenous cultures.

Neenah Payne writes for Activist Post and Natural Blaze

Top image: Wolf Conservation Center

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