Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Getting involved in environmental conservation can seem daunting at first, especially with the scale of the looming climate crisis. Everyday consumers are quite often discouraged by the effort that comes with moving beyond hands-off approaches like voting for eco-conscious candidates, or donating to wildlife nonprofits. Anything more involved or time-consuming is enough to push away many would-be climate advocates simply because they don’t have the time to commit. More to the point, most don’t even see their individual actions as being capable of changing the direction our society moves in the face of anthropogenic climate change.
They are right to be skeptical, as recent reports show that only 100 privately or state-owned multinational corporations globally are responsible for 71% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since industrialization began. Seeing how inactive these same corporations have been in the face of the catastrophe that they provoked, it becomes increasingly important for us to take matters into our own hands, and get involved ourselves. As it stands, legislative pressure has not been enough to curb GHG emissions: the companies responsible have proven their unwillingness to change, and are instead funding lobbyists to sway public policy and spending in their favour. In 2018, these lobbyists succeeded in re-allocating over$3.9 Billion in tax-payer money for sea-wall projects along the Gulf Coast, specifically to protect privately-owned refinery installations along the shore.
The point being, it is critical to start helping conservation at an interpersonal level: we can’t wait for anyone to do it for us. A majority of current policy makers and company executives don’t have the interests of working people in mind: they don’t care about the measurably negative impact their actions have had and will continue to have on people and on our planet. That’s why our actions must be structured in a way that puts pressure (economic, social or both) on the corporations responsible, since affecting their profits is the only sure-fire method of Below are a few ways to help support local insect, fish and mammal populations, and fight back against climate complacency!
One of the most important things you can do to protect insect populations, particularly important bee and beetle species, is planting and maintaining wildflowers. They’re gorgeous, usually quite easy to care for, and have the added benefit of being an absolute pollinator favorite! Check out pollinator.org’s insanely detailed North American ecoregion planting guides, which each have in-depth growing instructions for your climatic zone and a list of suitable endemic wildflowers! Rewilding your lawn or open space has been shown to bring in beneficial insects, which increase the overall wellbeing of the ecosystem. Another good way to help keep insect populations healthy is by cultivating more than just wildflowers! Bolstering the rest of the ecosystem by planting native species of all sizes helps in simulating an environment untouched by humans, and by creating a more diverse ecosystem, it’s actually more likely to survive in the face of drastic climate change.
Protecting fish, bird and mammal populations is less feasible through direct action, and must therefore be undertaken mostly in the way of protests and political pressure. Here in Northern California, environmental interference and overfishing has led to low forecasted population counts in recent years, and subsequently low catch quotas of Chinook salmon, a once plentiful species. Advocating for increased regulation, as well as even stricter fishing permits and catch quotas similar to those established in Iceland, is necessary if we are to balance the economic necessity of fishing with the toll it has taken on these fish populations. More importantly though is the environmental interference I mentioned previously: we must also continue protesting the many dam construction and extension projects. Coupled with canal infrastructure development, both of these man-made projects have severely disrupted established fish migration patterns and are projected to lead to the extinction of many native species if decisive action is not taken. We need to act, and we need to act quickly!
Lastly is the topic of protecting our native mammal species. Mammals are some of the most sought after animals in the illegal pet trade, and are also highly valued for their furs and meat, both of which are widely traded illegally. Other mammals, which may even be protected by the government, have their habitat destroyed to make way for rangelands or industrial farming. This is the story of the rare Tule Elk. A herd of this protected species within the Point Reyes National Seashore’s jurisdiction is at risk of being culled for the sake of a few ranching families and private ventures wanting to extend their operations, introduce more domesticated species into the ecosystem and renew leases on the land. We actually wrote an entire piece dedicated to this subject that you can find here. If you’re as outraged as we are with this news, please reach out to the Point Reyes National Seashore’s email address (on their site here) and let your voice be heard. If you can, pressure those responsible day in and day out by calling your elected California representatives about the Pt. Reyes General Management Plan.
You can also join us in our next protest against the plan (information for which will be posted on our site and instagram), or check out our “Shop” section and purchase a sticker, the proceeds of which will go towards local efforts to organize and lobby against the plan, and to help save the elk! I hope this article was able to spark some inspiration and convince you to get started in environmental and wildlife conservation!
Written by — Josh Kalia