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Man's impact on planet can't be denied [Letter]

Last month the World Wildlife Fund issued its Living Planet Index Report for 2014 with a truly alarming finding that, since 1970, 52 percent of the world's vertebrae mammals, birds and fish have vanished from the earth.

Consider that statement for a moment. In less than my lifetime one half of the creatures that share this planet with humans has either gone extinct or is in serious decline. The two primary causes of this dramatic decline cited in the report were habitat loss and exploitation, such as over fishing. Both are the undisputed result of human activity.

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Scientists have been warning in recent years that earth may be entering the early stages of a mass extinction event, and evidence is steadily mounting confirming it is already well under way. According to fossil records, particularly those of coral reefs, this would make the sixth mass extinction event on earth.

Man's impact on the health of the planet is far more devastating than just the exponential rise in CO2 emissions that have been shown, despite those who can't seem to understand basic science, to be heating the planet.

Human population in 1970 was 3.7 billion. Today it is 7.2 billion, having nearly doubled in just 44 years, and demographers expect it to reach 9.3 billion by 2050 before leveling off. I do not think it a coincidence that as man exponentially grows in population, the rest of the earth's animal and plant life is inversely declining at nearly the same rate. Much like a cancer over the planet, we are consuming more resources than the earth can replenish, all the while destroying the very ecosystems that we ourselves depend on.

I do not think it so radical a question to ask, considering this, has man become a cancer to the natural world?

We can no longer afford for the environment to remain a politically polarizing issue. We only have one earth, and we no longer have the luxury to ignore what basic science is telling us about man's impact on it. Nor can we continue believing that man is somehow apart from nature, or to hold the archaic view that we somehow have God-given "dominion" over this planet. Rather, we must begin to face the fact that we, like any other species, are very much a part of nature. The future of our very existence depends on it.

Matthew George

Westminster

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