Human survival tied to intact ecosystems

Keywords: Durango Herald,

The new ordinance regarding “non-native” endangered species in Montezuma County is emblematic of the unwillingness of people around the world to take responsibility for the health of the ecosystems that have nurtured us for millennia. Attempts to restore ecosystems and animal populations help foster humans’ long-term health as a species.

The Endangered Species Act is based on an ethic that recognizes species have a right and a reason to exist outside of human attributions of worth to the species. The Endangered Species act recognizes that large-scale human activity causes harmful, and perhaps even immoral, destruction. It helps put some brakes on our own tendencies to be unmindful of the harmful effects of our activities. Interestingly, President Nixon signed this act into law.

Not upholding the act is basically saying humans can do whatever they want whenever they want, no matter what the consequences. When species become threatened or endangered, it means the lands and ecosystems on which they depend are sick in their entirety. Humans depend on intact ecosystems for our own well-being. The fate of lizards, fish, frogs, birds, butterflies, bees, polar bears, tigers, etc. is ultimately our own fate. (For example, without pollinating insects, many of the foods we take for granted will be gone.)

The systems in which all these animals evolved or were created are the same or similar to systems in which humans evolved or were created. If ecosystems are so disrupted that they cannot support native species, then ultimately, human survival is also under threat.

For now, we can buffer ourselves with technology and by forcing the Earth to be more productive of crops and stock animals and energy, but only for so long. I have to believe that no one really wants to pass a diminished, broken, and sick world on to their children and grandchildren. Yet in our collective actions, that is what we are doing. We must find room in our hearts for the inherent goodness of intact ecosystems and thriving animal populations. Our own well-being and the survival of future generations depends upon it.

Robin Richard