The world is currently facing three severe crises that affect us all, the COVID-19 pandemic, and two others that have been drastically escalating for years — climate change and mass extinction of biodiversity. We were definitely not ready to respond to the first one, but we can and must take effective action now to prepare for the latter two. Otherwise, our current situation might become the new normal, a state of constant uncertainty, loss of quality of life, and extreme circumstances that touch the whole world, and have even more adverse impacts on the most vulnerable.
We have learnt, perhaps the hard way, a few things with the current COVID-19 pandemic. One of them is that we are all interconnected and interdependent. Among humans and between species. We learnt that if an infected person does not observe the quarantine, he/she can infect others in the supermarket queue. We learnt that the illegal and legal trade of pangolins in China can cause a global pandemic – thus our life has changed because of what happened in that animal market in Wuhan all those months ago. So this means that the death of 2,000 Hooded Vultures in far-away Guinea-Bissau we reported yesterday matters to you and me in Europe. Or that over 2,300 vultures have died as a result of poisoning in the Balkans over the last 20 years is somehow linked with my quality of life.
Why we must protect our planet now
Climate change poses a fundamental threat to communities, species and people's livelihoods. On Earth Day 2020 and for the years to come, we must make it our mission to be proactive in the fight to save our planet and all its inhabitants – and this means a decarbonised society, so that we reach, at the very maximum, an increase of only 1,5C above pre-industrial levels. This is the only target that would allow us all to adapt and try to reverse the damage already done – half a degree more 2C, and there will be irreversible loss of ecosystems and restorations processes.
Biodiversity is important too. Every species on earth plays an important role in the ecosystem. We need wildlife, and wildlife needs us. But here too the panorama is dramatic – the global extinction rate is currently 1000 times the normal natural rate. Experts estimate that on average, and without human interference, we lose one bird or mammal species every 500-1000 years. Since 1500, we have already lost 78 mammal species and 137 bird species. More than 10% of the estimated 10,000 species of birds in the planet are today threatened with extinction, including several vulture species, such as the Egyptian Vulture, or the Rüppell's Vulture or the Hooded Vulture – the same that dies in troves in the last few months in Guinea-Bissau. It is time to listen to science and take action NOW! We might be bound to our homes due to the global pandemic, but we can still make our voices heard.
The consequences of the pandemic will be plenty. An economic crisis is unfolding, and economic recovery packages are now being drawn. Decisions that will bind our societies for years to come are being taken. Life post-COVID-19 cannot mean "business as usual". We need to refocus. And we have a great opportunity – social sciences tell us that changes of paradigm are more successful and sustainable if effected during a crisis. We must make sure that the new world will be based on more sustainable grounds – in Europe, this means making sure that the European Green Deal, promoted by the new EU Commission, is at the forefront of any economic recovery. This means for example that public subsidies and economic support packages should not be directed to polluting and fossil fuel-based activities: This means that the climate change and biodiversity should be factored in the risk analysis of all activities and policies. This may look too far away from vultures – but the Griffon Vulture circling the sky above the Spanish Dehesa this afternoon, or the Bearded Vulture foraging above a snowfield in the Alps depend on the Green Deal, as much as they depend on you and me. Agricultural policies will, in many ways, dictate if the former has food to eat. Climate change will determine if the latter has any bones to break. And we are together in this – as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown. Anyone can make a difference. You can help make sure that our society adopts important measures based on the European Green Deal, where biodiversity and sustainability are transversal axes.
Five things you can do today as part of Earth Day 2020
The most lasting lesson may be what the coronavirus teaches us about the urgency of taking swift action. Here is how you can help today.
Here are some examples of what you can post on Social Media:
How you can help: www.4vultures.org/earth-day-2020
How you can help: www.4vultures.org/earth-day-2020
We might be separated, but we are all in this together.
On this #EarthDay2020, it's time to collectively take action for our nature, for our vultures, and for our wellbeing!
Contact your leaders and ask them for a future that has nature's best interest at heart.
Talk to your friends and convince them to join this important fight to tackle the climate emergency!
Every little bit counts. Do your part today. It's time to take action to ensure a bright future for our common home, our earth. @VultureConservationFoundation @EarthDayNetwork
Our earth, wildlife, vultures and people are facing severe threats on a daily basis due to the climate crisis.
It is more important than ever to step up and ensure a bright future for our planet and humanity.
Take action today. Every little bit counts.
Learn how you can help: www.4vultures.org/earth-day-2020