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Habitat loss: Can we stop before it's too late ?

The destruction of the environment affects wildlife, and will ultimately affect humanity as well.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Habitat loss is having a devastating effect on wildlife across the globe. The statistics are sobering. Globally, deforestation claims almost 4 million acres a year! 

Joe Allen is a former UB Professor of Environmental Studies. He's seen the loss up close, and he's very concerned. 

"If you spread that over the next few years, you're talking about huge losses of biodiversity."

Credit: Terry Belke
Deforestation claims almost 4 million acres a year.

A large amount of deforestation is due to our growing population, which has more than tripled since 1900 and continues to grow. Allen says that puts a tremendous burden on the environment, as we exchange natural habitat for agricultural use. 

"So we're looking right now at 40 percent of terrestrial habitat on earth being used to support livestock. It's..it's... mind-blowing."

It's not only outright destruction that affects wildlife. What's left is often broken up, and, compounded with other negative effects, that land is then unable to properly support the needs of the animals that live there.

"You have to also consider that when climate change and other invasives come in, it may change their food source." Explains Allen." So you're not just looking at an animal that lives in this one little square mile, you're looking at an animal that may move, maybe that animal has migrated to where there's greater food sources, but now if that food source is gone, they have no access."

Credit: Paul Sharpe
Some believe we are in a 6th mass extinction event. Habitat loss is a major factor.

So how have we arrived here at this critical point for the earth? 

Previous cultures have learned how to live sustainably and had respect for that which sustains us. Perhaps it's our current philosophy that keeps us from seeing the truth.

"I think the mindset of capitalism is totally the antithesis of conservation," Allen says. "And growth for growth's sake at all costs is the mantra."

Credit: Terry Belke
We all help reverse the damage. even simple things such as planting native plants can go a long way.

It's not too late to turn the tide. We can all take action! 

Simple actions, such as planting native plants instead of grass or invasive ornamentals, reducing unneeded consumption, and using our vote to make our voices heard. But Allen says we must never give up hope. 

Our future depends on it. "There can be, in the face of disaster, a positive change."


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