“Since after extinction no one will be present to take responsibility, we have to take full responsibility now.”Jonathan Schell, The Fate of the Earth, 1982
The world is currently in crisis. Or, more accurately, humans are currently undergoing a crisis. We are looking into the face of a new virus, and suddenly our mortality stares us directly in the face: we are not invulnerable. A little submicroscopic agent – too tiny for even microscopes to see – a little parasitic infection that isn’t even alive, has put the entire world into a panic. Lockdowns, distancing, curfews, fear, economic meltdown, hunger and suffering; all caused by the spread of a new ‘species’ of virus. What to do! Quo vadis the human race? Can we get through this terrible malaise?
Oddly, if you are an animal, bird, reptile or fish, this would be nothing new. Except that the new ‘species’ of life that is causing suffering, habitat loss and extinction is the self-same group referenced above: homo sapiens, or in more prosaic terms, you and me and all the other humans that live on this planet. And yet these extinctions, which are absolutely rampant, haven’t had a fraction of the attention paid to them that the current crisis has caused. Because humans regard themselves, literally, as the top of the food chain, all other creatures must take a subsidiary role: to feed us, carry us, work for us or entertain us. We are currently in the midst of what is called the ‘Holocene, or sixth extinction’, and while the previous extinctions have been caused by earth’s upheavals (and from space, in the form of errant meteors), this current killing off is just down to us, and us alone. It is estimated that humans have accelerated the natural attrition rate by a factor of over 1000 times normal. It is, simply, unsustainable. Humans are referred to as ‘global superpredators’, a term that would be great in a computer fantasy world, but not one that we should be proud of in reality. The 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, published by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, posits that roughly one million species of plants and animals face extinction within decades as the result of human actions. I quote them directly there. Isn’t that scary? Certainly as scary as Covid-19, we reckon, and yet it hardly gets a mention these days.
Fortunately, not every voice is silent. There are organisations that are fighting for the rights of all creatures on this planet, and in particular Waterfront Charters would like to focus on the WWF, or World Wide Fund for Nature. This is a tireless international group of dedicated professionals whose goal is to focus on the sustainability of all forms of life, working in conjunction with communities, governments and corporations to highlight urgent focus areas and educate the generations to come. To quote from their website:
“We are living in a time of unprecedented risk but also unparalleled opportunity for the future of our planet and our society. A time where the world’s wildlife has halved in less than a generation; oceans, rivers and forests are struggling to cope with our growing pressure upon them; and where we are still on a path toward catastrophic climate change impacts.”
Their concept of a ‘local to global’ strategy aims to highlight all areas of potential risk to species, and create not only awareness, but strategies to mitigate these issues. They acknowledge that scientifically we have the capability to meet and beat most of the challenges; what is lacking is the will, the finance and a broad global approach.
Waterfront Charters live and love the ocean. It is our lifeblood, our playground and the place where we feel most at home. But let us quote again from the WWF website, from their section on Oceans:
We’ve already lost half our coral reefs and mangroves – some of the most productive habitats on Earth. And we’ve pushed many crucial fish stocks to the point of collapse, threatening people’s livelihoods and food security – and harming other species including seabirds, whales, turtles and dolphins
Pollution – from plastics to oil spills to agrochemicals – also harms nature and contaminates food chains. And climate change is making the oceans hotter and acidic, which could spell disaster for coral reefs, polar regions and the rich variety of life they support.
We recommend that you click onto www.panda.org and read through what the WWF are doing, proposing and implementing. They are heroes equal to the selfless individuals who are working to save humanity from a virus.
Perhaps it will take a crisis to avert a crisis; it’s hard to say. When humans recover from the current pandemic – and we will – will we recognise that there are other equally important aspects of life to focus on? At Waterfront Charters we certainly hope so: part of our cruise agenda is to educate and inform our guests on the amazing life that lives – we can no longer say thrives – in our Atlantic Ocean. We look forward to seeing you all again soon; perhaps together we can help make the changes that are needed to protect this oceanic kingdom.