Friday, November 20, 2009

Philanthropy Should Include All Species: A Donation Challenge

November 15 was officially designated National Philanthropy Day in Canada. This is a good thing! A reminder to one and all of the importance of social engagement, compassion and altruism in our community.

Our sense of community, however, must be challenged and widened to include non-human species and the natural world, because our "community" really is the entire planet, and the future of life on this planet is in jeopardy. If we fail to protect the delicate web that forms this precious community, then we will all suffer.

Sure, we must support hospitals, feed the homeless, educate young women the world over, fight crime and fight disease. But we must never underestimate or deny the fact that without the healthy, thriving life support system that is Planet Earth, we are doomed to extinction. This is not sensationalism. This is reality. Committing ecocide means we are killing ourselves.

At a certain point, it won’t matter if our local hospital has the latest medical equipment or that we have cured the incurable, because there will be no future for our children. If they can no longer breathe clean air, drink clean water, grow crops, have children of their own … what then?

This is not just about creating more "green spaces." This is not just about shopping "green" this holiday season. This is about survival. Our survival.

Even the tiniest creatures—the moth, the ant, the aphid, the ladybug and the beetle—have a role to play in the scheme of things. Each is vital. Each holds one precious thread to the whole beautiful pattern of life. But it is unravelling at breakneck speed.

Some stats for you, courtesy of the Canadian Wildlife Federation:

• Approximately 75 per cent of Canada’s reptiles are listed as being of special concern or higher.
• The International Union for the Conservation of Nature recently confirmed that 12 per cent of the world’s birds are at risk.
• Approximately 10 per cent of marine mammals (e.g. whales, porpoises, etc.) are ranked as at risk by Canadian standards.

This is just the iceberg tip of the whole damn tragedy. Honeybees are dying. Ice flows are melting. Even the magnificent lion—the so-called King of Beasts—is endangered. Recent numbers figure that only 30,000 of the big cats still exist in the wild.

In Canada alone, close to 600 species are endangered.

I realize people want optimistic stories and bright, "upbeat" stories—and there are plenty! Every day, I read about how someone is going the extra mile for wildlife and for the planet. I am moved, motivated and inspired by their efforts.

But we need to be nudged now and then by the sobering reminders of how much more we need to do. How little time is left. There is a sense of urgency now, as never before. There is no time to waste.

This holiday season—which is fast approaching—please consider a gift to one or several of the splendid, hardworking organizations in Canada and around the world dedicated to saving species, saving habitat, saving land and saving life on earth, in all its magnificent variety.

I will try to give as much as my wallet will allow in the coming weeks.

But I will also add my voice.

Every few days, from now until the 24th of December, I will feature an organization on this blog. Please follow the link, read about their work and their campaigns, and if you can give any amount—or any amount of time—to the cause, please do.

To begin today, I am featuring The Canadian Wildlife Federation, which provided the statistics quoted above and the magnificent photo of the stag and doe.

So if you are at all moved by this appeal, please pass it on. Spread the word. Let's see if we can hit record numbers of donations for nature, wildlife, animal welfare and environmental organizations this year.

We have a world to heal.

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