The planet Earth was once a planet full of lush greenery and had critters that abound. The creatures owned this planet first, but since the creation of man, they have been bested. Over and over humans have demolished the homes and environments of the living things that came before us without a second thought. Now we find ourselves noticing that the planet is a little less green, a little less lively; and we have nobody to thank but ourselves.

The effects of our actions have already had permanent endings to many species of animal, plant, insect, etc. but we must speak out now before the damage is completely done. We must stop destroying the habitats of the other living things on this planet, we are not the only things that feel and have needs. The way to do this is to set up conservations that protect the biomes, environments, and habitats of our animal kingdom brothers.

The book "Sustainability Principles and Practices" defines conservation as "one of three approaches to maintaining the health of the natural world" (Robertson 118). It goes on to say that "conservation is the first line of defense for preserving biodiversity" (Robertson 118). The conservation of the homes of our animal kingdom neighbors is one very important way that we will stop hurting the Earth, but help it begin to heal. There is currently a land acquisition program in Lee County named Conservation 20/20. As of now, Conservation 20/20 has acquired 131 properties, 47 preserves, and has a total of 28,983.77 acres (Conservation 20/20).

I propose that we continue to buy land through organizations such as Conservation 20/20 and that they can continue in perpetuity, eliminating the possibility of deactivating through a future referendum so that they can continue the good work they are doing to save the environment and habitats of the animals that live there.

The book "A Land Remembered" begins with the reader following Mr. Solomon MacIvey as he travels around present-day Southwest Florida. As he is driven in his Rolls-Royce, Mr. MacIvey reflects on the changes that the land has gone through. He is able to see the world of his grandfather and father and finds himself bitter to the changes that took place, especially the ones that he had a part in (Smith 1-10). The reader sees as "they turned left again at the mainland, cruising down Biscayne Boulevard, its northern section jammed with more motels and junk food shops, service stations, massage parlors, porno movies, bars, adult bookstores" (Smith 3).

This is a stark contrast to the lively and green filled Biscayne, Florida that Mr. MacIvey's grandfather endured decades earlier. When the car is cruising down South Miami Beach, and "they came to the La Florida Hotel, sitting like a stuffed frog, rising boastfully above all of them, thirty stories, with the letter MCI blazoned across the top" (Smith 2) Mr. MacIvey shows his disdain clearly when his response to passing the hotel is "I hope someday the son-of-a-bitch gets blown down. I should 'a never built it in the first place" (Smith 2). This scene really spoke to me the first time I read it, and the feeling has only gotten stronger since.

I am worried, terrified even, that someday human-kind is going to look back at how we have demolished the earth and its biomes and only see the ashes left over from their flames. We are already seeing a little bit of that today, but it has not gotten nearly as bad as it could. Although if we keep driving down this highway at full speed as we have been for decades, I fear that it will be too late.

"Habitat loss, climate change, and invasive species are the main global threats to biodiversity constituting key single and synergistic drivers of extinctions" (Kuussaari, 2009). That being said, I believe that the key element of change hangs in the balance of conservation. Habitat loss is something that can never be given back. We can fight climate change, we can change our routine to help dampen the blow, but when we have demolished an animals home we can never fully give that back to them. We can stop invasive species, it will be a long and arduous process but it can be done. But once the final tree has fallen and the newest home has risen that is it.

There is no going back.

That is why conservation is the key.

Conservation is the way that we can save the species that were here before us and help make the planet a little healthier at the same time.

As we continue down the worn path, my fear grows. As I watch the news, read the papers, see the pictures, and witness the problem outside my windows all I want to do is scream. I know that by myself I cannot do much. While the people have power, it has been sufficiently proven that there is power in numbers. What I want to propose is the conservation of the habitats of the animals that surround us. I know that it will not be easy. I also know that the way the population is growing exponentially we, as a society, will have a difficult time not building new apartments and homes. I understand that. But what I also understand is that in order for us to have a nicer more comfortable roof over our heads we are completely destroying the only home that some animals and plants have left.

Are we really arrogant enough to say that we are the most important, that we deserve more because we are able to do "more"? I wholly disagree with that sentiment. As I stated earlier, they were here before us. I am aware that mankind has a history of destroying everything they touch and stealing what does not belong to them for themselves because they believe that they are superior in every way, but that does not mean that it is right. It was not right then and it is not right now. "The Earth Charter" states that we must "recognize that all beings are interdependent and every form of life has value regardless of its worth to human beings." The whole of planet Earth is connected by a giant food web, and if one section of that web is destroyed than the whole thing can come tumbling down.

The fifth point on "The Earth Charter" declares that we as a society must "protect and restore the integrity of Earth's ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life." This is such an important point to make. "Recent extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times their pre-human levels in well-known, but taxonomically diverse groups from widely different environments. If all species currently deemed "threatened" become extinct in the next century, then future extinction rates will be 10 times recent rates. Some threatened species will survive the century, but many species not now threatened will succumb" (Pimm, 1995). This statistic is from the twentieth century, which means that today we are seeing the repercussions of their mistakes. I know that today we want to move forward not backward and to do that we need to help lower the extinction and "threatened" rates to allow for the continuation of life on Earth. In order to succeed at this, we must conserve land for the species to live.

We must give them back their home instead of steal it for ourselves. Once the land is gone and the species have nowhere else to go what do we expect to happen? They will not be able to just waltz across the street to find a place to sleep. The industrialization of the world has made certain of that. No, they are going to search far and wide for a new home, they will fight until their last breath for their habitat, and then they will not have any choice. We chase them away and leave them in the proverbial dust and then question why they are all disappearing. We question why so many plant and animal species are endangered or "threatened," as if we do not know that it is our fault.

The conservation of the habitats of these species will not only benefit the species that have been detrimentally affected by our actions, but it will also help the planet and therefore us. Where we stand now, we are close to destroying the beautiful place that we call home for our amusement and so-called benefit. If we were to save even a little bit of greenery from every construction site, that would help in the long run. If we allowed for more parks and fields in residential communities or had more greenery in the community we at least would give the species somewhere to go. We have to give them a fighting chance. We must change things before it is too late and we end up like Mr. MacIvey, full of hate towards ourselves and the world around us, the world we created.

Works cited:

"Conservation 20/20." Lee County Southwest Florida, www.leegov.com/conservation2020.

Earth Charter Commission. "The Earth Charter," 2000.

Kuussaari, Mikko, et al. "Extinction Debt: a Challenge for Biodiversity Conservation." Trends in Ecology & Evolution, vol. 24, no. 10, Oct. 2009, p. i., doi:10.1016/s0169-5347(09)00277-8.

Pimm, Stuart L., et al. "The Future of Biodiversity." Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 21 July 1995, science.sciencemag.org/content/269/5222/347?ijkey=f65a1f5782dc587b9b3ed2d9b0ded9963648880c&keytype2;=tf_ipsecsha.

Robertson, Margaret. Sustainability Principles and Practice. Routledge, 2017.

Smith, Patrick D. A Land Remembered. Pineapple Press, 2011.