Environmental and Animal Industry We have a Problem: Our impact is only 0.063%
Throughout the world, 97% of global scientists agree that climate change is among us. As of 2013, National Geographic notes that 20,000 species are near extinction, confirming that human beings have created the highest extinction rate in Earth’s history-yes, including Dinosaurs. This rate is 1,000-10,000 times the rate as the planets norm, putting 30-50 percent of all species heading towards extinction this century.
What a negative way to start out a blog, but just wait! These statistics emphasize the importance of the environmental and animal industries, especially because every other industry requires resources (or organic materials from the Earth) in order to exist. 74% of all medicines come from plants and the dwelling you are sitting in requires wood, clay, and metals. Your leather belts, your wool socks, and your cotton shirts-all organic material. Oh, and oil, gas, fossil fuels, and everything we use to power our lives (minus sustainable practices, but aren't we all still driving cars with oil and gasoline based engines instead of completely electric?)
The study of ecology emphasizes that all living organisms on the planet operate in systems. We see through invasive and extinct species that these systems are effected if one component is missing.
You may say, "but these systems are not systems like a car, or a computer, so how sensitive are they really?"
On an isolated arctic island, seabirds bring over organic material in their feces from the mainland. The birds find shelter on the island, nesting and raising their young. The seabird waste fertilizes the soils on the island to create a dense grassland. Scientists introduced the endangered arctic fox to the island, that began to prey on the seabirds. As the fox hunted the seabirds, there there was less organic waste to fertilize the soils. This event changed the grassland island into a tundra, effecting the ecosystem down to the soil composition.
Studies like the one above, teach us why climate change and extinction rate are so threatening. If adding a fox caused the soul composition to change, what do you think is happening to the Florida Everglades with the growing population of invasive snakes and monitors? To the left is a picture of a snake round up, where local Floridians try and capture as many invasive snakes as possible and they still hardly make a significant dent in the population! What do you think is currently happening to African grasslands as elephants and rhinos disappear-the very individuals responsible for creating grasslands as ecosystem engineers?
The loss or addition of a part to an eco"system" will begin to effect everything in that system. And remember, people rely on various resources from that system to survive.
So as you see, the very survival of our planet, and the human race connected to it, are dependent on the maintenance and conservation of ecosystems by environmental and animal industries (although it is really a global responsibility, but because we do it for a living it is most dependent on us). Those of us in the industry may find this ironic, considering many of us live at the poverty level and are lucky if we even have reasonable benefit packages.
Now, for the punch line.
According to a 2015 census, 2.1% of the United States Gross Domestic Product were donations to nonprofit organizations. Of that 2.1%, 3% went to the environmental and animal industries, of which the majority of the businesses are nonprofits.
YES! That means our overall national financial contribution is 3% of 2.1% , or how I see it a whopping 0.063% impact.
I am quantifying our impact with numbers because of what they stand for. They stand for the national percentage of financial contributions to nonprofit environmental and animal organizations. In our industry, we get the message. We understand climate change, endangered species, deforestation, etc. In order to understand our impact, we must look at the behavior of our market, which is the general public or everyone else. According to these numbers, our impact (or motivation for financial involvement) is 0.0063%.
For arguments sake, lets just say you want to bring in the variables. You decide to make a rebuttal sounding like this " 3% of 2.1% is an inaccurate method of measuring our impact because people still recycle, volunteer, and minimize their eco-footprint. You cannot measure our impact on donations alone"
For those people, I am more than willing to give you 100%, instead of 3%, of the 2.1%. I think it is more than fair to say that a 97.9% increase will cover ALL of your variables. However, that is still only a 2.1% impact in a country and last year the US ranked first financially in the entire world with 18.5 billion dollars in the bank.
So as for the rebuttal, I will gladly give you 100% of the 2.1%, because either way you look at it our industry's reach is embarrassingly low. Its not good, its not great. I don't even think we would get a "satisfactory" on our report cards.
With the scientific evidence backing climate change and extinction rates, it is not only our responsibility, but the responsibility of all people to pay closer attention to these statistics. Those of us within the industry must accelerate towards progressive change and innovate for more and progress within our own industry.
Methods on innovation will be discussed in our next blog "The Medici Effect: The Birthplace of Innovation".