The banner advertising the 2014 convocation’s theme “Species Success – A 40 Year Review” was draped across the front of the huge arena. The opening ceremonies were spectacular as the delegates (two from every vertebrae species on Earth) were treated to the Avian Choir’s rendition of The Savannah Sparrow Suite. Policy discussions and votes dragged on through the afternoon.
That evening the master of ceremonies quieted the crowd for the moment everyone had been waiting for. “All creatures great and small - may I present to you the most successful vertebrate species of the past 40 years!” A roaring crowd greeted John and Mary Human who sheepishly accepted the award. The MC ticked off the humans’ accomplishments: a population that almost doubled from just under 4 billion in 1974 to over 7 billion in 2014, a revolution in telecommunications, travel in outer space… and on and on.
Later that evening, Mary and John were sharing drinks at The Watering Hole with several other delegates. “You must be very proud of how successfully you’ve propagated your species,” gushed Gladys Gazelle. Mary and John squirmed a bit uneasily on their bar stools. “We really owe it all to the rest of you. Our success has come at a cost,” Mary said. “Tomorrow during committee hearings we’re presenting the findings of the latest ‘Living Planet Index’ report. Looks like we humans may need to re-evaluate some of our priorities,” she conceded.
“It’s true that humans have nearly doubled our population in the past 40 years. However, on average, all the other vertebrate species populations have been cut in half during those same 40 years. You other creatures have paid the price for our success. Because of our use of animal resources, habitat degradation and loss, global warming and pollution your populations have taken a nose dive,” John explained.
Mary concluded, “But we humans know we can’t survive without an environmentally balanced Earth. A wide variety of animals, plants and microorganisms is needed for a vibrant, healthy world. We know we’ve got to reduce human use of animal resources. Protection and restoration of habitat has to become a priority. We already have ways to reduce our use of fossil fuels that are heating up the atmosphere. All creatures need a healthy planet to thrive on because this is our only home. Together, we are forever…Earthbound.”