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Op-ed: Not Our Problem

An award winning op-ed in IMS’s “Editorial Project”

By Sahana Madabhushi

Imagine returning home from a long day of work: Your car pulls into your driveway and it dawns on you that your house is gone. The house you worked so hard to buy is replaced with lush trees and a dense forest abundant with animals that now call your home theirs.

You are forced to relocate, but everywhere you go, there are just forests with animals. All of the homes are being replaced, and thousands are forced to the street. People everywhere are dying from the lack of food and shelter. Some attempt to live in the jungle with the animals, but few actually survive. Your food, your life, everything you worked for, is gone. It’s a horrible feeling right?

For animals all over the world, this is their reality. Forests and jungles that hold half of the world’s animals are forced to the urban cities or agricultural areas where they either die of starvation or humans kill them. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), in the 1990’s 70% of deforested land was converted into farmland. Around half the world’s original forests have disappeared and they are still being destroyed at a rate 10 times higher than forests’ regrowth.

So many species are affected by habitat loss. In fact, the WWF has stated that habitat loss is the greatest threat to species all around the world. The Sumatran orangutan from Indonesia, an archipelago of islands located in the Pacific Ocean near India, is a critically endangered species with only around 7, 500 left in the wild. They, along with many other animals, are constantly under the threat of losing their homes.

The main reason that the Sumatran orangutan is endangered is because humans are tearing down the jungle that they live in so that they can get palm oil or start a palm oil plantation. When forced to relocate, humans hurt them even more by either slaughtering or capturing them. What makes matters even worse is that the orangutan isn’t the only animals pushed to endangerment by humans. Habitat loss for animals is the equivalent of poverty or homelessness for humans. But these are just words; the real question is, What are we going to do about it?

Photo by World Wildlife Fund

Photo by World Wildlife Fund

Palm oil is one of the main reasons millions of animals are losing their forests in the tropical regions. If you value your home, try not to use products that have palm oil in it because thousands of animals have lost their homes and died just so that you could have lipstick, cookies, noodles, or peanut butter. Or, donate to charities such as WWF that work to save animals from the horrendous fate of losing their land. We humans don’t have forever to fix this problem; the wildlife on the Earth is as finite as our own lives. So, if you choose to live to the fullest, take action: it’s now or never.

Millions of humans don’t care about the land that they are destroying; they only care about their jobs. They don’t realize the extremely serious effects it could have on the human race and the world. National Wildlife Federation states that when land is drastically manipulated by humans, it may no longer be able to provide good soil for agriculture or it may not be a great place to build houses on. Not only does this affect the animals that lost their homes, but now humans can’t use that land because they destroyed it.  

Deforestation takes the lives of so many innocent animals every day, which- considering the action we have taken so far- doesn’t seem to be much of an issue for humans. What makes matters even worse is that humans have the nerve to call the destruction they cause progress. If one replaced humans instead of animals, then this would be an enormous problem. People would be doing whatever it takes to help them, because it’s easier to help when you can relate. Well relate to this. If people don’t stop habitat loss, then we are all going to be forced to relate to the animals eventually and start dying as well due to the immense change in atmosphere. It’s not going to happen soon- but if we don’t take action now, then we will eventually have slaughtered ourselves, along with all of the animals we endanger to extinction. I can’t convince you to care, but I can ask you one question; “How long is it going to take the human race to realize that they will be doomed, just like the animals, if their mess remains uncleaned”?

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