A Magazine About Food, Art & Exchange In Midtown Kingston, Published By The Hudson Valley Current.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Life on Land

Our very existence on this Earth depends on other species.

What I have to say about life on Earth in this column has a lot to do with what Sir David Attenborough has explained in a Netflix documentary called, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, and of course, the statements of the United Nations on the environmental state of our terrestrial life. In short, we are turning the Earth into a place where we cannot live.

To change the course of this human tragedy, that is, to reverse the assault on our Earth, many governments put the progress of their nations and the survival of their lands on the balance, because they recognized that they cannot advance, economically in the long term, without placing the protection of the planet first. By 2030, these governments under the umbrella of the United Nations committed to:

  • Protect, restore, and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems;
  • Sustainably manage forests;
  • Combat desertification;
  • Stop and reverse land degradation;
  • Stop the loss of biodiversity.

Before we get into the details, let’s talk about what needs to be protected and why? What we have to treasure, Sir Attenborough has synthesized it thus: “Billions of individuals and millions of types of plants and animals, dazzling in their variety and richness, working together to benefit from the energy of the sun and the minerals of the Earth. They lead lives that intertwine in such a way that they support each other. We completely trust this fine tuned life support machine, and it relies on its biodiversity to run smoothly.”

Earth has built this stability over millions of years, since it was struck by a meteorite, causing its fifth mass extinction, scientists say. So many causes and conditions had to come together for the Earth to be the living paradise, that we know of so far, in the entire universe! When the Earth stabilized, the average temperature did not change more than one degree Celsius or 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

And yet we have threatened this stability and we suffer from the global warming effects that we have created. The world’s biodiversity has suffered, millions of small extensions of precious species, since we humans learned to make machines. In 1937, when Sir Attenborough was a child, the human population was 2.3 billion, the carbon in the atmosphere 280 parts per million, and 66 percent of the natural world remained. Today those figures are tragic; they point to how the chain of evolution has gone out of tune. Sir Attenborough, who traveled the world publishing stories of the natural world for the BBC, realized that he was already talking about a world that was disappearing. Today it is already evident, because the species that he had found decades ago are more difficult to find.

Today, the population of endangered animal species is growing. This includes the thousands and thousands of small pangolins captured annually by poaching. According to the UN the pangolin is the possible intermediary animal that transferred the coronavirus to humans. When I look at these round, vulnerable creatures, I feel pain because they are going through a holocaust, as they are the most trafficked mammal in the world, according to groups like Pangolincrisisfund.org.

Reading the news captures our attention all the time, but learning from the natural world and seeing what is happening offers us a stroke of consciousness that can empower us to take action to take care of our home and our siblings throughout the natural realm.

The UN placed its sustainable goal of protecting and restoring life on Earth as its fifteenth goal, recognizing that eradicating hunger, as number two, takes on more importance. The truth is that all 17 objectives of the UN are interrelated, especially those that have to do with the relationship between us and the natural world. For, as Sir Attenborough points out, all the inhabitants of this Earth lead lives that intertwine in such a way that we support each other.

Indigenous leaders tell us this in so many ways. I hope we at least listen to the words of Chief Seattle, who lived during the 17th century: “Human beings have not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. What we do to the web, we do it to ourselves. All things are bound together…all things connect.”