(Photo from IPBES website)
Yesterday morning I freaked out. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens. I stumbled upon the headline, “UN Warns That 1 Million Species Risk Extinction,” on, of all places, the Weather Channel’s website. I somehow had missed that the UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES), which is the equivalent for biodiversity issues to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), had released a major report on this topic the previous day (May 6). I then commenced on a too-frantic search for more information, which led me to the original press release issued by IPBES and an article in The New York Times ("Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace").
This really wasn’t news to me. I had already read the best-selling book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. I’m mired in the details of endangered and threatened species daily through my work with One Earth Conservation. Yet, for some reason, those headlines shook me to the core. And led me to despair.
Knowing that despair is not a place you want to hang out in for too long, I made some phone calls until I found a sympathetic ear in my fellow Climate Leader and friend, Harriet, of the Climate Reality Project’s Metro New York City Chapter. She reminded me how, yes, things are dire, and it may be too late for humanity to avert real crisis. Or maybe it’s not too late. We commiserated about how long we’ve both been doing this difficult work and what kind of future our young adult children will face. I cried a bit and ranted a bit and she listened. Finally, Harriet reminded me how important our work is and how, no matter what, we cannot give up. This resonated greatly with me and I hung up the phone feeling lighter and ready to begin another day.
Lately, those of us who care deeply for other beings, nature, the environment, our children, our children’s children and humanity in general come face to face with despair far too often. Harriet reminded me that we cannot let this stop us from doing the work that MUST be done. Please take care of yourself and continue to follow your passion, whatever that may be. Humanity’s future depends on every one of us grieving when we must, moving back to hope and then doing what we can to help.
[Side note: One way to move back to hope is to be in nature. Join LoraKim and I for our first 2019 Wild Walk at the NY Botanical Garden on May 25. Click here for more information.]