Coping with Big Numbers and Big Declines in Biodiversity

When I first read this big headline last fall: 3 Billion Birds Lost Since 1970, I had barely even begun to process the previous big environmental headline just a few months prior, which was, if you remember: 1 Million Species at Risk of Extinction.  I am currently of the opinion that these wide-sweeping types of studies are too big to effect any type of practical change. It seems as if the Ecology news now mimics the Economy news. The financial debt and the ecological debt we have accrued are both incomprehensibly large. And we are absolutely immune to the headlines. 

When I was a residence assistant in college we called it “sign blindness.” Put up a sign announcing an event happening in the dorms and by 2nd semester the freshmen had seen so many of these signs they became absolutely blind to them. This is the case with environmental alarmism. This is not a critique of the environmental movement. This is true of media across issues, on both sides of the aisle.  Rather than massive sweeping studies we need to prioritize our problems. We need a rubric for determining which ecological problems most deserve our attention. We need to do this locally first and then regionally. 

Several important categories worth putting forward in a Top Ten list for your local area:

  1. Water quality 
  2. Air quality 
  3. Acres of natural landscape
  4. Biodiversity 
  5. Soil fertility 

A recent article from the American Bird Conservancy took the 3 Billion Birds report and pulled the five American birds with the sharpest population declines. By presenting a limited number of priority species in this fashion land owners, wildlife managers, scientists, politicians, and the informed public at large can better digest the state of affairs and move forward thoughtfully. 

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