Photo: It's time to save the humans

Credit: Kent Kallberg

By David Suzuki

Download Finding Solutions PDF

Protecting the environment is about looking out for ourselves

We often see and hear slogans such as "save the whales" or "save the caribou." And it is important to look after the plants and animals that share this world with us. But, really, what we must do is save ourselves.

Nature is resilient. It will bounce back no matter what becomes of humans. But the more damage we do to natural systems, the more we put our own survival at risk. We may not take much notice if a plant or animal becomes extinct, but when more than 17,000 plants and animals are threatened with extinction because of human activity — including 12 per cent of all known birds, nearly a quarter of known mammals, and a third of known amphibians — we have to consider the impact on ourselves.

When any animal or plant is removed from the environment, the effects cascade throughout the ecosystem. When animals high up the food chain, such as bears or tigers, die off, it can lead to a population explosion among the prey, which can lead to depletion of grasslands or shrubs that those animals feed on, which can lead to flooding and other impacts that affect our own habitat and our ability to grow food. We depend more on nature and its services than many of us realize.

Although this may sound like "doom and gloom," the bright spot is that we can do something about our destructive actions. Organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation have had many successes in getting animals, plants, and habitat protected, but we can't do it alone. No matter how scary it can be to learn about the damage we are doing to the planet — our home — we must become aware so that we can make changes to create a better world for ourselves and our children and grandchildren.

At the David Suzuki Foundation, we are given hope by the many people who contact us to offer their time, suggestions, stories about what they are doing for the environment, and donations. Every day we hear from people who care about the future, and that gives us the strength to carry on our work with enthusiasm. It's time to "save the humans."