Editorial: It’s a small world

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June is a month with many qualities commanding our attention, not least of which is the natural world.

With our hemisphere moving toward maximum daylight hours, gardens are bursting with life and wild flowering plants and trees are coming into their own.  

While these small miracles still abound, the greater picture is looking bleaker. A report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services determined that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating.

The world’s oceans are among the hardest hit environments, perhaps because their plant and animal species are easier to ignore for humans who put most of their focus on the land. The IPEBS found that almost 33 per cent of corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. Whales face a peril we can no longer ignore, as their deaths surface to haunt us. Close to 60 grey whales have washed up dead along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California in 2019. Two prevailing theories are either warmer oceans or lack of food (amphipods, krill and small fish) are to blame. Southern resident killer whales are also turning up malnourished to the point of starvation. These days, the rare birth of a new calf warrants as much anxiety as joy.

With all these worrying facts casting shadows on June’s sunny days, the month has also become a time to raise awareness of the linked issues of species loss, climate change and human action. World Oceans Day arrives this Saturday, June 8. The month of June is Orca Awareness Month in Oregon, Washington state and British Columbia, and it’s also been claimed as Climate Awareness Month by Transition Salt Spring this year.

While far-reaching initiatives are needed on all fronts, paying attention to our actions as individuals is a simple start. Things like minimizing waste that could end up in the ocean, growing more of your own food and saying no to farmed salmon are all ways  to help lessen climate impacts and maintain ocean health. Not coincidentally, these actions will also help orcas.

Our biosphere is an amazing network of connections. Starting small could help in ways we can’t even fathom.

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