Updated: April 22, 2019

"The Earth is not a disposable planet" Carl Sagan, Scientist

Today more than one billion people will take part in Earth Day Celebrations.  The theme this year is entitled "Protect our Species". Many will be pledging their support to help preserve planet Earth. They will help raise awareness of the rapid rate of extinction since the loss of the dinosaurs.  The fact is, ecosystems are becoming depleted and, many species are under enormous stress. The environment cannot work properly if species become endangered or extinct. The aim is to protect biodiversity in nature. Each species,  no matter how small, has a role to play. When humans protect biodiversity they protect themselves. Greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability of all life forms.

 Here are just a few sobering facts about global species decline.

1. Insect population have decreased by more than 75% in Germany over the last 25 years.

2. Habitat destruction, exploitation and climate change are driving loss of half of the world's wild animal population.

 3. Forty percent of the world's bird species are in decline and, 1 in 8, is threatened with global extinction.

 4. The big cats, including tigers leopards and cheetahs, are in critical decline and may become extinct in the next decade. China remains the worlds largest market for these critically endangered species along with black rhino and other species.

5. Lizard population are declining at a rapid rate due to climate change. A recent study stated that at the current state of decline, 40% of all lizard species will be extinct by 2080 (Source Earth-Day Network)

Certain areas are considered more vulnerable than others. There are 35 biodiversity hotspots; that is, the world's most biologically rich yet threatened areas. In 2009, the Caribbean was considered to be one of those biodiversity hotspots because of the area's high proportion of endemicity.  For example, of the areas 11,000 species of plants, 72% are endemic and 26% of 564 species of birds are endemic. Due to  this high level of endemicity in a fragile environment, the region is considered high risk for many species. For example, the Amazona Imperialis also known as the Sisserou, is endemic to Dominica and is on the endangered list.  Unfortunately, since the passage of hurricane Maria in 2017, no one knows how many are still in the wild.

It is generally accepted, that many factors cause a decline in the earth's species, including climate change. Some argue, that species have gone extinct before and, this is just a natural cycle; but they are wrong. The extinctions that happened before, were part of a catastrophic event and, not man made. The mass extinction that is happening to day is done by homo sapiens. According to Carl Sagan "It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out". Therefore, as the world celebrates Earth Day today  it is critical that humans find creative ways and enact policy changes in order to protect Mother Earth before it is too late.