Sunday, June 23, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Harmony in Living Things

Over the last 6,000 years, the surface of our planet has undergone a sudden change.

Update : 15 Nov 2018, 05:11 PM

A new habitat has appeared, entirely reconstructed for one purpose – for the occupation of humankind. About 140 years ago, the invention of electric light had a profound change on the activities of wildlife. One such change is the effect on the onset of hawksbill sea turtle hatchlings. The turtles nest their eggs in the summer so that the eggs are ready to hatch in the winter months. On one shore in Barbados, during the winter full moon, the sea turtles will emerge and instinctively move towards the light of the full moon, which would usually be facing the ocean. However, because of the city lights, the hatchlings become confused. Disoriented and misguided, 80 percent of the hatchlings move towards the city streets. Predators take opportunity of this and prey on the confused hatchlings. Even if a hatchling does manage to escape, the odds are that the hatchling gets crushed by traffic or fall into sewers. About a 100 percent out of the 80 percent that become disoriented die. On top of that, the 20 percent that do make it to the sea face the perils of nature and only a few survive. Given the statistics, it is estimated that in no more than a few years, the hawksbill sea turtle will go extinct.

Animals and other living beings must cope with the changes caused by humans or disappear. Since the influence of mankind on nature and the ecosystem, more and more species are becoming extinct. But what does this mean for us humans? As we study and discuss human culture and problems in society, should we also not prioritize the role of animals in our society and in our structure? To understand why this is important, it is essential to know how important a balanced ecosystem is, for us, as well as for other living beings that share this space on Earth. Politics, healthcare, crime rates, economy, etc. are all important and should not be dismissed, but as we overly concern ourselves with all this, we lose sight of the seemingly trifling matters that go hand-in-hand with these human issues, such as pollution, destruction of natural habitat, overfishing, poaching, and hunting of rare and exotic animals. What I’d like to get across to everyone is that we need to figure out some way we can move forward together with animals and the ecosystem, especially now in a time of ecological crisis, that is, exceedingly high rates of global warming, human overpopulation reaching Earth’s maximum carrying capacity, and many more problems created by just people in general. 

Coexisting with animals and including them into our society is a challenge, however, it is inevitable. Photo: Matt AntonioliThere has already been steps forward as ideas and social movements of animal rights began dating back to the nineteenth century. Nation governments are being involved with the protection of certain endangered species and natural habitats. However, there is still a way we can implement an ecosystem into our own human-occupied habitat. Some cities that have done this, for example, are Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and most of Singapore. Some would argue that this is because of their status as developed worlds – but that isn’t entirely the case. The idea of building a green city begins in our homes, with the individuals. As individuals, we need to start by giving up our power as humans to the animals. In India, for example, the citizens expressed that they feel they are worth less than the animals that are revered and given freedom to roam and flourish. This creates a power struggle between the locals and the animals that inhabit the surroundings. However, I think that there isn’t necessarily a power struggle in this scenario. It isn’t as if the animals are given more power than humans, but that their power is inherent and rightly deserved in order to include the natural ecosystem into human society. Then, there are people who argue that they have the right to hunt and claim the wilderness as they like. Whereas it is perfectly reasonable to hunt and gather for survival, hunting and poaching of rare and exotic animals is something that deserves more law enforcement. Nonetheless, as our need for more resources grow, more settlements are being made, and more and more natural habitat is being destroyed, increasing our world’s fundamental and basic underlying problems. We think about building our economy and increasing the welfare of our people, and at the same time, at the cost of our planet’s health, we take and take from nature.

Bright lights in coastal towns have a disruptive effect on marine wildlife, Photo: Dan RussonBut it does not have to be like this. Could it not be possible to build cities more in harmony with nature? Could we not invite the wildlife back? We can create restrictions to harm the environment beyond human occupied spaces, or even create human occupied spaces that have some kind of natural ecosystem? Take Singapore for example, where the government implemented vertical forests that make up 1/10th of the green space in the land occupied by humans. Nearly two million trees have been planted in the past 45 years. The city is richer in species than anywhere else in the world, and this practice extends to all parts of the city. The waterways have been cleared up, and smooth coated otters have come back – along with the fish they prey on. The most spectacular of city cleaning are the groves of super trees – 50m high structures that are full of life, consisting of creepers and other plants in which humming birds, insects, and other birds live in. This is a vision of the cities of the future. The potential of seeing animals thrive in our cities is achievable across the globe. More than half of animals exist in our cities. Whether we open up space for the animals to have their own space is up to us.

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