One of my favorite people, Jane Goodall, wisely recognizes that "it’s important to take advantage of the time we have, right now, because we never know how much longer we have left in this life."
That is so true …
My dad just spent a little more than a week in ICU. Besides being worried about him and scared about what the outcome could be, the feeling of powerlessness was overwhelming.
These are times that get us thinking, pondering life, the things we can change and others that we cannot control.
Goodall is one of the world’s most prominent and popular primatologists, ethologists, anthropologists and environmental activists. Despite all the adversities and setbacks, she continues to fight for the greater good.
Alice Outwater documents in her book "Water: A Natural History" how the colonization process affected our land and water and drove beavers to near extinction.
In the 1600s, "the beavers disappeared trap by trap, and hat by hat," Outwater writes on page 31. She continues to describe the effects that removing beavers from the environment had on everything else - wetlands, water quality, rivers and all the various species living in those environments that depended on ponds and wetlands created by beaver engineers.
"The primeval splendor of the land disappeared with the beaver’s demise."
Today, most people understand the connection between water, land and forests as well as our dependency on the earth resources and services - provided to us for free - that affect our health and way of living. People are a lot more aware of issues like those and are more willing to fight to preserve those resources.
Forest services have learned from past "well-intentioned mismanagement" and are able to apply more effective techniques that benefit the land long term.
In the modern days, we have means to try to discourage and stop that kind of destruction through studies and lawsuits; grassroots movement to stop loggers and plant more trees; ecologists and biologists who keep track of habitats and populations and work to reestablish their numbers and prevent species extinction; and animal advocates fighting to save various species.
But I am afraid it is not so much the gap in knowledge or lack of resources that profoundly affect the environment and our lives. It is the arrogance of the human species and greed that are driving destruction and animal extinction.
Despite what some might think, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "this planet can provide for human need but not for human greed."
Natural resources are depleting fast. The battle to preserve and restore habitats, build through sustainable development, educate people on the connection between nature, natural resources and humans (and our future!) and instill best practices into everyday living still continues. Like Goodall, we will probably never stop, but hopefully the level of destruction will diminish as ecological conscience grows.
In the meantime, we need to carry on the work because greed did not get extinct; animals and plants did.