Some are big-picture issues, but others involve steps you can take to help

2013 is here, and everyone is busy making (or already breaking) their New Year's resolutions. Mother Nature took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to share a few thoughts on how to improve the situation here on our planet with some New Year's resolutions that should be taken up by mankind.

Here are the top seven resolutions for the Earth in the New Year. Take it away, Mother Nature:

1. Prevent species from going extinct

 Earth is in the midst of an enormous extinction crisis, the biggest spate of die-offs since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, according to several studies. The world's level of biodiversity is also down by 30 percent since the 1970s, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund, a conservation group. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that 150 to 200 species go extinct every day, which is about 10 to 100 times the "background," or natural, rate of extinction.

One problem facing endangered species, particularly in developing countries, is poaching. Driven in part by the demand for animal parts in traditional medicine cures in parts of Asia, poaching (and capture of animals for the pet trade) has only increased — dramatically — in the past decade.

A total of 633 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2012, for example, according to Reuters. Compare that with 448 killed in 2011 and 13 killed in 2007. Poaching is largely to blame for the extinction of many creatures, including a subspecies of Javan rhino in Vietnam in 2010.

It's hard to focus on other animals and plants all the time. But humans are animals who come from a world replete with other creatures and forms of life. Even now, surrounded as many of you are by urban centers, devoid of forests and most wildlife, people depend on plants and animals for survival. Ultimately the loss of biodiversity will hurt you, as you, dear humans, are part of the web of life. Each species serves a specific function that can't be wholly replaced if one goes extinct, leading to a less productive ecosystem which ultimately provides fewer benefits for humans.

2. Preserve the rainforests

 Rainforests are vital reservoirs of plants, animals and microbes. Most terrestrial animals aren't the big, charismatic species like elephants and tigers often associated with the jungles, but rainforest-dwelling arthropods (a group that includes insects, arachnids and crustaceans, all of which have hard exoskeletons).

Arthropods are the most diverse group of animals in the world and perform all kinds of vital roles in their environments, from eating fecal matter to pollinating flowers. Rainforests also contain plants than can help humans; compounds derived from these plants have been used to create many medicines, including the anti-malarial drug quinine, originally found in the Amazon's cinchona tree. It'd be a shame to lose such wealth before even discovering it.

The forests also supply the planet with an enormous supply of oxygen. Even so, from 2000 to 2010, for example, about 93,000 square miles of the Amazon rainforest were razed, covering an area roughly the size of the United Kingdom.

3. Protect areas with high biodiversity 

Not all areas are created equal. Certain places should be left alone, such as those that are home to endangered species, species found nowhere else, particularly high varieties of species and those that provide other important ecological benefits.

Examples of areas that need your special attention include Madagascar, which is like no other place in the world — it is the only spot where lemurs and many other unique life-forms dwell. But forest and grassland habitat on this island off the coast of Africa is being destroyed rapidly; Madagascar has lost at least 90 percent of its original forest cover.

Another jewel would be the Philippines, which has one of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet, but is threatened by deforestation and development. A single recent expedition found more than 300 species that are likely new to science, including a deep-sea shark that can inflate itself when frightened. But these species are potentially in danger from human activities, while other species could go extinct there and in other spots before they are even discovered.

4. Reduce greenhouse gases and limit climate change

 Humans are a gassy bunch, burning fossil fuels and increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

Many climate scientists have estimated that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere must be limited to 350 parts per million (ppm) to avoid the worst effects of a human-altered climate, such as warmer temperatures, more frequent heat waves and droughts, sea level rise and even more extinction of animals that can't quickly adapt to climate change. The current concentration is nearly 393 ppm and rising about 2 ppm annually, according to the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

To avert the worst effects of global warming, humans would need to quickly find alternative fuel sources — look back to what's been provided to you and harness the sun or the wind or heat from the Earth.

The worst effects of warming can be seen in the Arctic and Antarctic, due to a phenomenon called polar amplification. Many areas throughout the Arctic have already warmed by 3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 degrees Celsius) over the last 30 years, heating up much more quickly than the rest of the world and acting as harbingers of things to come.

The poles are also home to magnificent animals like polar bears and penguins,which are sensitive to environmental changes. And that's not to mention the fact these areas store enough frozen water that, if melted, would put most of the world's current urban areas under water. And even if these areas don't completely melt, they could still cause significant sea-level rise.

5. Curb water pollution 

Humans are really shooting themselves in the foot with this one. Although big strides have been taken in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, it remains an enormous and growing problem throughout many parts of the world, including China, parts of south Asia and Africa.

Besides the obvious detriments of polluting one's own drinking water, pollution from agricultural runoff, when it reaches the oceans, also creates so-called dead zones — algae blooms develop and consume all the oxygen in the area and other species that need oxygen die off. The dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico has been steadily growing and recently covered an area roughly the size of New Jersey. Pollution also contributes to coral disease, which is a major unrecognized factor in the decline of coral reefs — top spots for biodiversity (see Resolution #3).

6. Better manage fisheries and curb shark finning 

Commercial-fishing techniques are leading to the deaths of too many fish, sea turtles and marine mammals, often when these creatures aren't targeted by fishermen.

The worst of these techniques is the use of large nets (including dragnets, seines and driftnets, which catch just about everything in their path) and longline fishing, wherein hundreds or thousands of hooks are suspended up to many miles behind boats. The average longline in the Gulf of Mexico stretches for 30 miles, and more than half of the tuna and swordfish caught are thrown back, most of which die, according to the Pew Environment group.

The hunting of sharks has also increased dramatically, primarily due to increased demand for shark fin soup in China, a substance that has repeatedly been shown to be high in toxins. Up to 73 million sharks are killed each year to quench this demand. Ocean ecosystems depend upon these predators to keep the web of life balanced.

7. Consume less 

This one is pretty simple: consume less. Especially Americans, who could still survive using less energy and water; most of the world gets by on a fraction. Reuse of materials may be another good practice. This could mean simple changes like reusing shopping bags, alleviating the need for more plastic and paper.

Many items also needn't be thrown away merely because they are out of fashion. A recent study found that a large percentage of appliances that are thrown away still function properly.

In addition, boost energy efficiency by making and buying better cars, like hybrids or electric vehicles powered by renewable sources. You can also do simple things like turning off lights and appliances, using programmable thermostats and replacing air filters in HVAC systems.

Using less plastic would be another good place to start. Now, plastic is found in just about every corner of the globe, for example in thegreat Pacific garbage patch, known to scientists as the North Pacific Subtropial Gyreand even on the floor of the Arctic Ocean.

The Earth's resources are not unlimited, and if humans are not more careful, this will become increasingly obvious.

Responses to "7 resolutions for a better Earth in 2013"

  1. Glo says:

    Thank you so much for sharing the truth.I look forward to learning more from you.Thank you.

  2. Glo says:

    I shall spread the news.

  3. kadi says:

    I'll do whatever i can

  4. Anonymous says:

    Putting number 1 on every one list is a must here in urban living. Continues drive by shooting is a form of cultural genicide

  5. Anonymous says:

    I am going to use more cloth bags rather than using plastic, it will be one small step but why not, it could make a big difference.

  6. Anonymous says:

    There are those that say we really need to reduce the human population as soon as possible....I'm talking worldwide...better check on that ASAP

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, I'll share this !

  8. Anonymous says:

    Great article. It comes down to all of us though. I am doing my part to help the earth. But we all must pitch in. Being an Earth Conscious Consumer is something we can all do. Some suggestions: On a personal level, I reuse paper towels, use cloth napkins and shopping bags,use toilet paper from totally recycled material, compost my household waste, except for the human waste.About 75 percent of the books, music, clothes, jewelry, household furnishings and toys I buy for myself and my grandchildren are pre-used.I recycle paper, cardboard, metal, plastic, wood,and nails.Before a new piece of furniture, book or clothing comes into my house I make sure its energy is contiguous with all of the above earth concerns.Something else goes to the Goodwill or the Giveaway before something new comes in the door. I borrow tools from my neighbors. They borrow tools from me. I am also active in social media to support the Earth's needs. we can all sign petitions,take part in educating the politicians and our friends and neighbors, in whatever way those opportunities to act will arise. Thanks for listening. and Thanks for all the work you do.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I already try to do my best to help our Mother Earth , but I'll share these news to more people also help in this efford to save a life on our planet.Thank you for all what you wrote about...

  10. Unknown says:

    These people are trying to get us to respect the Earth. But government and people are ignoring them, stop them from dancing in public, want to run a pipeline through their land, arresting them. Worst thing is the Divine is watching all this. Let me put it another way, if you were the divine, how would you feel to watch your children abuse all you had created. We know a way around the abuse, but not enough people care. Want to thank White Wolf for researching this, and making this public knowledge.

  11. Anonymous says:

    My grandfathers were chiefs, and the people of the area they honored were burned alive for the British brought by John Smith to grow sacred tobacco for profit, murder, theft and selling tobacco all profane endeavors. I refuse to exchange my money for any thing that perpetuated theft, loss of habitat and cruelty. I am vegetarian. 95% vegan. as many indigenous people are becoming. the sacred corn is labeled "Natural" by greedy and corrupt, Earth destroying corporations, also fed to cattle who can not digest it. So many of the overall belief systems and attitudes that arrived on these shores have spread and snowballed, so that insanely extreme horrors are committed here never before seen. How can I possibly live ethically and honor Earth Mother if I participate in this loss of forest, desertification, profit for the cruelest and least moral? Lands are still fencing in domesticated animals, while bison, wolf, prairie dog, people are reduced and pushed onto postage stamp-sized squalor, portions too small to sustain valuable living? If 1 person exchanges eating meat / animal products for a vegan diet, they'll reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.5 tons per year.
    If every American dropped one serving of chicken per week from their diet, it would save the same amount of CO2 emissions as taking 500,000 cars off the road.
    Chickens, turkeys, pigs and cows are collectively the largest producer of methane in the U.S.
    Methane is 20x more powerful at trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
    The meat, egg, and dairy industries produce 65% of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions.
    Nitrous Oxide is 300x more powerful at trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
    1 calorie from animal protein requires 11x as much fossil fuel as 1 calorie of plant protein.
    The diets of meat eaters create 7x the greenhouse emissions as the diet of vegans.
    Nearly half of all water used in the U.S. goes to raising animals for human food.
    It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat.
    1 pound of wheat takes 25 gallons.
    You'd save more water by not eating one lb of meat than you would by not taking a shower for 6 months.
    A vegan diet requires 300 gallons of water per day vs. meat-eating diet which requires 4,000 gallons per day.
    Animals raised for food create 89,000 lbs of excrement per second, none of which benefits from the waste-treatment facilities human excrement does.
    Chicken, Hog, and Cattle excrement has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states.
    Raising animals for human food uses 30% of the Earth's land mass. That's about the same size as Asia! The moon has less area than that, at 14.6 million sq miles.
    More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals. Corn destroys to intestines and stomachs of steers and cows. GMOs and pesticides, whether sprayed or systemic, are destroy bees/pollinators, soil, air, human and animal health, and corrupt organic crops.
    The equivalent of 7 football fields of land are bulldozed every minute to create room for farmed animals.
    Livestock grazing is the number one cause of plant species becoming threatened or going extinct in the U.S.
    70% of grain and cereals grown in the U.S. are fed to farmed animals. 90% of corn is.
    Animals eat large quantities of grain, soybeans, oats, and corn; however, they only produce a comparatively small amount of meat, dairy products, or eggs in return.
    It requires 16 lbs of grain to produce 1 lb of meat.
    5 lbs of wild-caught fish to produce 1 pound of farmed fish.
    Acidification of the oceans, coral reef death, dead zones are due to animal waste and "cides" from the GMO crops.

  12. Anonymous says:

    It's time to remember the truths about how to live simply on earth and act upon them. Don't wait for any government to fix it. You will find, that as people reassert simple mindful living close to earth, various government entities will move in to stop us. As it goes for the Natives, so it goes for all who reassert the liberty to live in harmony with the land. If you are ineffective you will be ignored. As you gain power you will be ridiculed. Then you will be reviled and persecuted. This is why it is so important for our young warriors to understand the battle. We need them here with us, not dying of self-inflicted wounds or in foreign lands serving the Beast. The elites cannot profit from self-reliant bands of people cooperating to provide items necessary for life. In fact, the existence of such free people in large numbers is their greatest threat since they are parasites that feed on our reliance on them for food, shelter, health care, education, etc. Get it together to thrive and survive.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I think Animals are supposed to be nurtured and they have so much strength to help us work here on Earth. Why just raise them to be slaughtered and eaten. There are plenty of other delicious nourishing foods to raise and eat. The animals are intelligent and will be loyal and work for us if we work and help them survive. Let them graze the grasses and keep them down. Let the animals help in every way. There are many ways they can. Let nature run its course.
    It is up to us to work the earth and be good stewards of the Earth. It is the blessings we will reap and it is about how thankful we can be.

  14. Anonymous says:

    More wise words from the White Wolf. Thank you for all you do!

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