Convention for the Rights of All Species on Earth

A universal agreement must be forged to protect habitats of other specifies, writes Noreen Haider

Convention for the Rights of All Species on Earth
When I take my dog out for the morning walk, I am always very watchful of him and make sure that he does not pick anything from the street and eat it, like a discarded bone, or a piece of plastic. I am also very careful about his daily food and keep it as clean and balanced as possible to make sure that my pet remains healthy. I am sure all of us who care for our pets think pretty much the same way.

Just imagine how we would react, if someone contaminated their food or water with poison or sprayed some toxic chemicals on them, or-horrific as it may sound-fired rounds of ammunition around them? How would we react? What would we believe that person to be? Most of us would consider him to be a nasty, sick person or a psychopath. Most of us can never relate to that kind of cruelty or believe ourselves to be capable of anything remotely similar.

But the sad reality is that most people in the world today are knowingly or unknowingly part of a system and economy that is based on the same if not worst kind of cruelty to millions of animal species that are co-inhabitants of Planet Earth and have an equal right of living here, along with humans.

Man, in his quest for development has been extremely cruel to animals of all shapes and sizes, inhabitants of land and sea, rivers and lakes, dwelling in forests and mountains, all over the world.

The cruelty stems from the hubris of humans that everything in the world is there for their benefit and all the rest of the creatures are therefore dispensable. This cruelty begins with callously ruining their natural habitat, eliminating their chances of survival by mercilessly cutting away the forests that are home to them, leaving them starving and dead, poisoning the rivers and lakes with all sorts of chemicals and toxic waste, killing the animals there. It manifests in contaminating the oceans with crude oils and chemicals and dumping millions of tons of plastic waste in them with complete disregard for the life present in them.

There are now an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste in our oceans. 269,000 tons float, 4 billion microfibers per square km dwell below the surface. Seventy percent of our debris sinks into the ocean’s ecosystem, 15 percent floats, and 15 percent lands on our beaches. In terms of plastic, 8.3 million tons are discarded in the sea yearly. The marine debris in the Pacific Ocean called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch now covers an estimated surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, an area twice the size of Texas or three times the size of France.

Massive pollution has severely damaged the habitat of animals in and around the oceans and contaminated their food. Millions of aquatic animals are in danger because of the plastic waste that they are consuming, along with their food.

Other than oceans, river ecology has also been mercilessly ruined. Construction of huge dams and lakes has constrained the natural flow of rivers which greatly disturbs the natural cycle of laying eggs, hatching and seasonal migrations of the fish and other animals living in it. This has resulted in a greatly reduced population of fish.

There are even more sinister ways in which man and his disdain for other species has been a source of pain and death to the animals dwelling in the oceans. There are warships and submarines, which are continually engaged in exercises in the oceans, which includes blasts, explosions and testing all kinds of weapons, which is agonizing and devastating for the marine animals.

Since 1952 when the US began Hydrogen bomb testing in 1952, enormous amounts of radioactive fallout has been released around the world. Before the partial ban on testing in 1963 both sides of the cold war went on a spree of atmospheric testing, 200 bombs during 1961and 1962 alone, the resultant radioactive particles ended up in land and sea for thousands of kilometers.

During the cold war the equivalent of more than 7,100 Hiroshima-sized bombs were detonated at Bikini and the Eniwetok atolls in Marshall Islands by the US forces. Countless birds, fish and plants were maimed or burnt to death as whole coral atolls were obliterated.

The cutting down and burning of tens of thousands of acres of rainforests from South America to Malaysia and Indonesia in the Far East, to clear land for livestock farming or Palm Oil plantation and other countless ways in which humans have destabilised the natural ecosystems has now placed a million species in danger of extinction. From the frozen North Poles to the Amazon forests, from the Australian shores to the African the animals are in danger from deforestation, forest fires, drought, extreme and erratic climatic changes, loss of habitat, relentless hunting and industrial fishing.

Yet, none of us considers ourselves personally responsible for endangering animal species, like the majestic polar bears, or adorable pandas or the cute koalas but the reality is that we cannot be absolved of this responsibility. From the people who burn down the rainforests for plantation of palm trees to the ones who buy palm oil and from the people who drain effluent waste in the local river to the ones who look the other way, we are all responsible in varying degrees. Just by being complacent about what the governments are doing to buying products from corporations which have no regard for the environment, we are contributing to it.

What is little realized is that if business as usual continues it would destabilize planet Earth itself. If we believe in saving the species and the planet then it is vitally important that we all take our responsibility seriously.

As a climate change activist and campaigner, I would like to put forward a proposal for all the nations of the world to come together and agree on a ‘Convention for the Rights of All Species on Earth’. I believe that COP 26 would provide an excellent platform for this proposal.

All countries who have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change can jointly pledge to declare all the species of animals and plants as co inhabitants of Earth and agree that the basic rights to life, propagation and habitat of all the species on planet Earth must be recognised and respected.

‘The Convention for the Rights of All Species on Earth’ should declare the safeguard of all species and a universal agreement could be made that no human development would be undertaken at the cost of endangering any species or destroying its habitat.

The Convention should be made binding on all countries and that every possible effort should be made to reverse the damage already caused to the lives and habitat of the animals on rivers, land or sea.

There is no better time than today to start repairing the damage done to the planet and to put in all efforts to make policies, plans and strategies that do not cause further harm to the planet and the millions of amazing and unique species that exist here.