There is an algorithm used at Yahoo! and many other online institutions that essentially shows you more of what you "like" based on what you click on - the things that keep you engaged. People have warned of the bubble that this can create for some time, which led me to wonder whether the biodiversity of our planet really was collapsing at a greater and greater speed or whether I was just increasingly being shown more and more articles about that topic because I had clicked on them in the past with great interest. Unfortunately both seem to be true.
If one is to believe that humans are a virus, then the extinctions that we are undergoing are completely natural. And yet it seems we are sufficiently sophisticated and smart enough that we should be capable of preventing what is occurring from taking place. No one wants iconic species to go extinct. And yet, seeing us failing to protect them sufficiently leads one to wonder how many other things are completely out of our control. Maybe this should not be a surprise.
Just how close to extinction are our fellow species? WikiPop - or Wiki + Population - began as a desire to have species populations, including humans, presented in an easily digestible manner; kept up-to-date by volunteer crowd participation. The inclusion of the human population was always key as it seems the primary driving factor in our widespread environmental degradation, yet is a lightning rod topic that most conservation organizations understandably prefer to ignore.
Most of the hundred year trends were depressing to the point that some hope needed to be included. Indeed there is a flicker of light in the form of great people working on the ground to give these species a fighting chance, yet they are invariably under-funded. Just 2% of global giving is estimated to go to wildlife conservation. And so as part of WikiPop in addition to population graphs we have endeavored to include projects that visitors can support to fund specific conservation efforts by heroes on the ground in direct contact with these endangered species.
We are a volunteer-powered 501c3 non-profit in the United States where donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. The choice to be volunteer-powered is one that will surely slow us down at the start, and yet it seemed an important one so as to be a simple conduit of funds to the front-lines, without adding to an already complex ecosystem of well-wishers. Although as some say this is a time when no one can stay on the sidelines. We all need to do something; anything. WikiPop is our something.
It is easy to get lost in the logistics of helping to tackle such a monumental problem. And it can seem futile. But when you think back to the animals themselves, and your interactions and experiences with them, it has a way of focusing the mind and simplifying things. They are what children's dreams are made of; inspiring wonder and awe, unjaded.
|Samburu, Kenya 1988 (Photo Credit: WikiPop)|
And what we're letting happen may be natural in the grandest scheme of things, but it is not ideal to say the least. And it is in our control to stop.
Many people surprisingly still think ivory is harvested from the elephants and that they live on after removal. Not exactly.
|Amboseli, Kenya 2013 (Photo Credit: WikiPop)|
Let's peace out on a happier note:
If you would like to participate with us in this experiment, the best thing you can do is help us fund projects on the front-lines, or volunteer with us, or send us your feedback, or do something - anything - you can think of where you are with the resources you have. We're in a marathon, not a sprint, and it is a battle we can never completely win (how uplifting!). But it is a battle worth fighting.
If you have a memorable story of an encounter with a wild animal, leave it in the comments...