Earth Day 2019: Protect Our Species

By Daniel Weisman
Sustainability Analyst Intern
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

image of logo for Earth Day 2019Earth Day 2019 is quickly approaching, and Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) is excited to take part in this year’s theme: Protect Our Species! Currently, the world is facing the fastest rate of extinction since the loss of the dinosaurs more than 60 million years ago [1.]. Human activity is the main cause of the mass extinction which is a trend than cannot continue. SIG is determined to spread awareness about this tragic issue and offer recommendations for humans to help save endangered species!

Some notable facts about the decline of Global Species:

  1. Land-living animals have fallen by 40% since 1970 [3].
  2. 40% of Earth’s bird species are decreasing, and around 13% are threatened with extinction [2].
  3. Insect populations have decreased dramatically, including a reduction of 75% in Western Europe over the last 28 years [2].
  4. Approximately 60% of Earth’s primate species, humans’ closest animal relatives, are threatened with extinction [2]. There are currently only 504 primate species in the world.
  5. About a quarter of the world’s coral reefs have already been damaged beyond repair. As this number continues to grow, marine life is at a severe decline [3].
  6. Around 75% of all toothed whale species have been negatively affected due to bycatch in fishing over the past 20 years [2].
  7. Many of the world’s large cats will become extinct in the next decade due to human hunting for their body parts and skins [2].

More information about Global Species Decline can be found here.

What are the main causes of the rapid increase in extinction?

Human-Induced Climate Change

photo of Polar Bear floating on small patch of iceClimate change has posed a fundamental threat to species and their habitats. With an increase in the use of fossil fuels, there is no doubt that average global temperatures continue to rise. This has caused more frequent droughts, storms, heat waves, melting glaciers, and sea level rise. As a result, wild fires and flooding have destroyed ecosystems. From polar bears in the Arctic to marine turtles off the coast of Africa, the planet’s diversity of life is most certainly at risk [5].


photo of trees cut down causing deforestationThe destruction of trees is a huge problem in the biodiversity community. It is estimated that around 7 billion trees are cut down each year! Deforestation can lead to a reduction in available food, shelter, and breeding habitats for animals. Furthermore, wildlife may experience an increased vulnerability to predation, poaching, wind, sunlight, and invasion of exotic plant and animal species into remaining forest habitats. The Amazon rainforest, for example, is losing trees at a rate of 20,000 square miles per year, mostly to create more land for farming while destroying habitats and killing off species in their natural ecosystem [6].

The Spread of Non-Native Species Around the World

photo of worldwide pest brown marmorated stink bug Halyomorpha halys (adult)Invasive species, any kind of living organism that is not native to an ecosystem, are among the leading threats to wildlife. Approximately 42% of endangered species are at risk due to non-native species. Most troubling, invasive species are primarily spread by humans, often unintentionally! People use ships that carry uninvited aquatic organisms from one destination to another. Insects many times get into wood and shipping crates that are shipped around the world. In many instances, humans may release pets and ornamental plants into the wild, which can become invasive. Invasive species grow, spread, and reproduce quickly and aggressively. They threaten native wildlife by preying on native species, outcompeting them for food or other resources, and causing and carrying disease. For example, lake trout that are native to the Great Lakes are considered to be an invasive species in the Yellowstone Lake in Wyoming because they compete with native cutthroat trout for habitat [7].

What can People do to Help in the Fight to Protect our Species?

While humans may be the biggest threat to endangered species, there are many ways people can help in the fight to protect them! Here is a list of things people can do to save endangered species [4]:

  1. Learn about endangered species in your area.
  2. Volunteer at a local wildlife refuge, park, or other open space.
  3. Make your home wildlife friendly (secure garbage in cans with locking lids, feed pets indoors, and place decals on windows to deter bird collisions).
  4. Attract native insects, such as bees and butterflies, to help pollinate native plants.
  5. Reduce the use of herbicides and pesticides that are hazardous pollutants that affect wildlife.
  6. Slow down when driving and keep an eye out for wildlife.
  7. Recycle and buy sustainable products.
  8. Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species.
  9. Do not harass, shoot, or trap a threatened or endangered animal. Report it to your local state wildlife enforcement office if you witness this.
  10. Avoid habitat destruction and support wildlife habitat and open space protection in your community.

More information about saving endangered species can be found here.

SIG’s Involvement

photo of a small tree being watered by a handSIG takes great pride in participating in Earth Week events each year by spreading awareness and encouraging clients to partake in sustainable initiatives. SIG is looking forward to talking with building occupants and discussing more ways to go green. Of course, helping others learn about the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) mission is something SIG is very enthusiastic about. This year, Ann Thompson will be instructing students and faculty at Georgia State University for Earth Day on how to become more sustainable in their day-to-day lives. Along with spreading awareness, SIG will be attending many Earth Day events at our clients’ buildings that also help in sharing sustainable goals. SIG welcomes visitors by hosting transportation and occupant comfort surveys and raffling off prizes for those who participate. Furthermore, SIG will further engage the public by handing out sustainable supplies such as recycled tire coasters and recycled notebooks. Last year, Senior Sustainability Manager, Asa Posner, spent his Earth week supporting events at multiple buildings in New York City. He promoted a used sports equipment donation drive and gave out tree saplings and wildflower seed cards to building occupants among many other Earth Week activities. Asa and the rest of SIG are eager to assist in more Earth Week events in 2019. Thanks to the many property managers for making these activities possible. SIG is excited to have another fun and rewarding Earth Week this year!

Sustainable Resources

LEED Platinum LogoIf you would like some ideas on how to engage your tenants in Earth Day activities, check out this blog and reach out. Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) provides Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) consulting, LEED Exam Prep Training, Green Building Consulting, and Engineering Services from our offices in Atlanta, GA; Boulder, CO; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY and San Francisco, CA.


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