|The President’s Hoot|
by Richard H. Baker, Ph.D.
Our Earth is undergoing its “Sixth Extinction,” as is Elizabeth Kolbert’s 2014 book title that alerts us to the rapid loss of biodiversity. Nearly 30,000 terrestrial vertebrate species with populations numbering fewer than 1,000 individuals are on the brink of extinction. More than 400 vertebrate species have become extinct in the last 100 years. 389 North American bird species are vulnerable to extinction. Called the Anthropocene Extinction because we humans have caused so many plants and animals becoming extinct. Actually, species loss began in the Pleistocene when humans hunted the large Ice-Age mammals, like Mammoths and Wooly Rhinos to extinction. Due to rapid population growth and consumption rates, the extinction crisis is accelerating. Depending upon agriculture to survive, humans have removed much of the natural habitats on earth. Deforestation, hunting, pollution, and introduction of non-native species are also causing ecocide.
Florida’s fishes are dying from lack of oxygen in the water from wastewater and fossil fuels acidifying oceans collapsing fisheries feeding billions of people. Over 905 manatees have died since January because of disappearing seagrasses on which they depend for food. Seagrasses are shaded to death by algae blooms that absorb needed sunlight. From agriculture and lawns, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, and medicines go directly into canals to the Lagoon nurturing red tide, algae blooms, and also cyanobacteria (blue-green algae implicated in ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer diseases, respiratory and skin irritation) killing tons of marine life. Garbage is filling up our county’s dumps, our highest smelly mountains! We are using too many resources and wasting too much. It is not sustainable!
There’s a climate emergency: the U.S.’s highest temperatures, droughts and tremendous fires in the U.S., Canada, and even Siberia, burning not just forests, but homes and villages. Flooding is rampant in Miami, Arizona, Europe and China and famines in Africa, Yemen, and China. This is the beginning of climate crisis that threatens human existence. Our planet cannot sustain 7.8 billion humans unless we do something now.
What? Encourage a shift in societal behavior and thinking. In response to my request, thoughtful environmentalists and leaders made these suggestions to stop this massive global climate emergency, save Earth and our Lagoon:
- Value our environment daily, make changes hourly to reflect that value.
- Reduce our carbon footprint/use of fossil fuels and plastics: reuse, make do. Drive and consume less.
- Rethink our economy that relies on constant growth and resource consumption. Waste less food, compost waste.
- Use farmland more sustainably, avoid “clean-farming” and clear cutting.
- Educate children, the public to foster a sustainable and healthy environment.
- Stop poisons/polluting: Lead, Asbestos, Arsenic, pesticides, and herbicides. Neonicotinoid pesticides are putting 40% bees out of business! The world cannot function without pollinators. We are finding glyphosate in our manatees. Spraying such unnatural and potentially toxic herbicides on waterways is madness. With all the effort we have, stop the anthropogenic pollution of the Lagoon.
- Let’s all work together, including our political leaders, city councilors, county commissioners, Governor DeSantis, and state government to take bold action immediately to provide funding and leadership.
- Support the land-conservation bond issue and the Rights of Nature Amendment.
- Stop “dumping” human poop on lands,
- Build innovative wastewater treatment facilities where liquid is treated to potable levels, and solid poop becomes saleable fertilizer and electricity.
- Fund conversion of septic to sewer.
- Improve stormwater treatment areas, swales, and bioreactors.
- Ban fertilizers with phosphorus.
- Ban glyphosate, atrazine and chemicals used in canals, lakes, and waterways.
- Restore habitats and plant native species, conserve and preserve remaining lands.
- Provide state tax incentives for electric vehicles, and solar power for homes and businesses.
- Save aquifer water for drinking, bathing, cooking only. Recycle everything especially water.
- Stop clear cutting and save trees in new construction.
- Reduce sod to 10-15% of the yard and cure our lawn fertilizer and chemical addiction.
We can do much to save our Lagoon, Earth, animals, plants, and us. The science is there. Join together, let’s do it!