Esteemed Leaders of Canada and the World,
Now is the time to act. As the concerned youth of the 2012 Biodiversity Summit we know this much is true. Now is the time to assess the value of biodiversity and protect it. Now is the time to realize that our economic and ecological concerns can be one in the same. Now is the time to place the lives of all present and future life on Earth ahead of short term gain. Now is the time. We have inherited the world that your generation has left us, we will become the next stewards of the earth; listen to what we have to say.
We are now in a new epoch of human dominance. Scientists have coined our current era as the Anthropocene; where humans are the major force for changing the world around us. This is distinguished by a homogenized environment, where biodiversity is threatened. This crisis is man-made. Current extinction rates are 100-200 times higher than they would be without human influence. The rate and magnitude of climate change will magnify the loss of biodiversity, which means that we may be on the threshold of the sixth mass extinction—the first since the dinosaurs were obliterated. Thus, it would be irresponsible not to take action.
We believe the major threats to biodiversity are: over-exploitation of our resources, habitat loss and pollution. Our nation’s alarming consumption of natural resources, such as drilling for oil or expansion of current oil sands, over fishing, and deforestation eliminates habitats. We encourage green energy consumption rather than fossil fuels and an implementation of stricter limits to fisheries and logging industries. We have lost significant biodiversity due to habitat degradation. Protected areas are important, but are generally situated in low biodiversity regions. On the other hand, many urban centers are located in biodiversity hotspots. Damage to hotspots such as the Carolinian forests in southern Ontario and the old-growth forests in British Columbia are evidence of this impact. Pollution, affecting the hydrosphere, atmosphere and lithosphere, is becoming one of the leading sources of ecological stress in Canada. The introduction of invasive species (a living pollutant) into our ecosystems is becoming increasingly detrimental to our natural environment.
There is economic gain in acting to help resolve the issue of biodiversity loss, as the services that biodiversity provides are essential to our economy. It is estimated that the boreal forest alone is worth 93 billion dollars annually. Programs are needed to protect regions with the highest biodiversity. By promoting and enabling long term research centers that monitor ecological systems (such as the Experimental Lakes Area) we will be able to foresee and better tackle the growing problems. The baselines are forever changing because, as a country, we have lowered our standards. Funding for education programs is necessary to educate the public. A penny in research and prevention saves a dollar in restoration.
The youth of the 2012 Biodiversity Summit are asking you to:
If you have listened to us, please act NOW.