Bella Lack is a 16 year old conservationist working to inspire youth action to protect and preserve the planet.
Two years ago I went on a life-defining journey to Borneo. It was among those dense, fecund forests one afternoon that we encountered an orangutan mother with her juvenile son. The moment was fleeting, a transient taste of what we used to be. I gazed into the deep depths of his eyes and saw my own gaze reflected back at me. We were just two primates inhabiting the same planet, two children sharing a moment of understanding and mutuality.
Photo: © naturepl.com / Anup Shah / WWF
It is moments like these when I feel the greatest despair. For my generation every moment of natural beauty that we’ve encountered has been overshadowed by the grim truth; the grim truth of apathy and empty commitments, of over-consumption and of decimation. Every day I see the myriad ways that human activity has ravaged biodiversity and I watch in disbelief as those people who are supposed to preserve our planet, seem to be doing their utmost to destroy it.
The recent WWF Living Planet Report highlighted the shocking decline in wildlife, with over 60% of populations disappearing since 1970. It’s easy to dismiss that statistic, as indeed we did in October last year when the report came out. If 60% of the human population vanished, we would talk of nothing else, so why do the majority of us not even dedicate enough time to read the Living Planet Report and grasp the magnitude of the crisis that we face?
I don’t like to say that this is my passion, because that suggests exclusivity. This should not be an issue for only those ‘nature-lovers’ to solve. Humanity as a whole must embrace a paradigm shift and disseminate the idea that nature is vital for our very survival, which we often seem to forget. That’s what today’s Earth Hour is all about. We also seem to forget about those who will come after us, whether they’re already living or not. Future generations, including mine, are on track to inherit a poisoned chalice and that’s why I’m doing the most I can to persuade ‘decision-makers’ to implement sufficient policies and strategies to protect planet and people alike.
This year and next will be two of the most critical years for our species and all of those that we share the planet with. World-leading politicians and businesses will come together at the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Biodiversity Conference . We must not allow these conferences to commence, rile up a media, greenwashing frenzy and then simply fade into distant memory. Because if we do, our planet will surely deteriorate with it. 2020 is an opportunity to put in place a new deal for nature and people to address the severity of this crisis. And young people across the world want our leaders to do so.
Follow Bella Lack on Twitter @bellalack