As humans, we like to think that we’re above nature’s fray. Ecosystems may die and other animals may go extinct, but we with our superior brains and technology will always come out on top. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a bubble: We’re all part of the delicate, interconnected matrix we call Earth. The difference is, out of all the species, we have the greatest power to alter that balance.
So far, our track record has not been great. Not only do we hunt and displace individual species, which can result in a trickle-down-effect that harms the entire region. But by cutting down forests, introducing invasive species and spraying harmful chemicals on the land, we wreak havoc on multiple species at once. The effects of our destruction are clear: Today, species go extinct up to 1000 times as fast as they did before humans hit the scene.
The good news is, as the most powerful agents in our ecosystems, we also possess the ability to restore balance—if we put our minds to it. This will take effort. But by investing in repairing the environments we have damaged, we can help natural systems return to a state of stability. The first step is to recognize our outsize impact on the great web of life, so that we can help preserve the great diversity of our planet.