TEDxBoulder – Andrew Currie – Protecting Endangered Species for Future Generations

TEDxBoulder – Andrew Currie – Protecting Endangered Species for Future Generations

September 30, 2019 11 By Ewald Bahringer


Translator: Denise RQ
Reviewer: Lena Clemente I’m going to start with a quote
by the Dalai Lama, “Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized
by a sense of universal responsibility not only nation to nation
and human to human but human to other forms of life.” That’s what I’m here to talk about; I’m passionate
about wildlife conservation, thus, other forms of life. In the last ten years,
I’ve done everything I can to learn as much as I can about it. I’ve read books, I’ve talked to experts, I’ve gone to conferences,
and traveled the world. I wanted to see for myself
what’s going on in these places. I visited chimpanzees in Uganda, I visited mountain gorilla
families in Rwanda. Everywhere I go, the root cause
of the dwindling numbers of these species is human population pressure. A recent visual example
I saw of this is in Uganda, with farms going up the hillside right to the boundary
of Bwindi National Park, part of the last remaining habitat
for the mountain gorilla. Let’s talk about population. We’re at 6.7 billion people
in the world today, expected to rise to nine or ten billion
just in the next 40 years. The problem is we’ve already got
a billion people who don’t have enough to eat. What is it going to be like
when we increase the pressure, the human population pressure, by another 50%? So, I think, what we are going to have
are more conflicts, more wars over scarcer resources, less drinking water per person. We’re going to have less food per person,
more disease, and suffering. It’s difficult to comprehend,
but that’s suffering on a global scale when we are talking
about billions of people. I know this is sobering to think about. Is this a future we want to leave
for our children and grandchildren? I don’t think so either. So let’s steer towards a better future. Thomas Berry wrote
that our great work for our generation is to learn to live on the planet
at least benignly. Why would we do that? One reason we would do that
is that our fellow living things, who happen not to be human, don’t have a representative in Congress; they don’t have a lobbyist in Washington, they don’t have a voice at the table, and yet, they are completely dependent
for their survival on our good will; much like children. Let’s talk about our country’s population
and our wildlife. We had about five million people
in our country around 1800 and about 290 million people in 2000
– more now, of course. At a conference, I met a scientist,
Andrea Laliberte, who had done fascinating work comparing wildlife sightings
in the 1700 and 1800 in our country to how wildlife range today
in our country. This chart, the pinkish areas
– I’m not sure how it looks here – are where we used to have black bears. The yellow areas are
where they still are today – you see there’s been
a lot of recession there. This is the gray wolf; we used to have gray wolves
running all over our country; – the pinkish areas you see on the chart – not so today. We used to have grizzly bears
running over about half of our country; as you see, they’ve receded,
and we don’t have them. This was just 200 years ago. That yellow island-like area – that would be
the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Let’s look at a summary map:
take a look at the right here – red is good, green is bad,
white is very bad. You see that we’ve lost
a lot of species in our country; those white areas mean
that all of wildlife that was looked at, – in this case, in the 1800s – it’s gone from our country. Do you think is normal
not to have wildlife running around us
all the time in our country? That’s not normal. Let’s bring it home, here,
to the Front Range of Colorado; tonight. We used to have wild bison; they’re gone. We used to have gray wolves; they’re gone. We used to have–
– sorry, my clicker’s little sluggish – grizzly bears;
could’ve been right outside. They’re gone. We used to have lynx, the cat; gone. Maybe they are not leaving. (Laughter) We used to have black-footed ferret, very dependent on prairie dog
for their survival; gone. We used to have this beautiful, little bird:
the mountain plover; also gone. This is sobering information,
so what can we do? We can choose a better future. Let’s apply the empathy that we have for our cats,
dogs, and other pets to endangered species
like this chimpanzee, but all endangered species. Let’s have fewer children;
that’s one of the most powerful– (Applause) – Thank you! – (Applause) – I didn’t expect that response. – That’s one of the most powerful things
that we can do in the United States; if we want to have kids,
great; let’s have two. If want to have
more than two kids, let’s adopt. What else can we do? Well, we won’t go there. So, what else can we do? We can help educate girls and provide
economic opportunity to women in developing countries. (Applause) Amen! When we do that, those ladies choose
to have to have smaller families, and we have more nutrition,
more health care, more education for their kids, and the impact
on the global population is huge. Finally, what we can do is we can give more to our planet. We can give half
of our donations, let’s say, to people and people-related causes, and half of our donations to the planet, to ocean conservation,
to wildlife conservation. I want to mention, by the way,
that today, we only give about 2 to 5% of all giving that goes to environment
and wildlife as a category. You’ve been very patient
with sometimes, a difficult topic; I just want to say
that the thing to think about is do we change,
as a species, what do we do, so that our fellow living beings
who happen not to be human can thrive alongside of us a 100, 500, and 1,000 years from now. Thank you very much. (Applause)