March 1st, 2019
Hundreds of activists are expected to mark World Wildlife Day this weekend with a mock memorial service in the centre of Dublin to highlight the extinction crisis that our planet is currently facing.
The event, hosted by Extinction Rebellion Ireland (XRI), will see a coffin representing the future of humanity carried from The Spire to outside St Stephens Green at 1pm on Sunday.
According to XRI, the aim of the symbolic protest is to highlight the Government’s “failure to recognise and act on the ecological and climate emergency” that we are currently facing.
The Extinction Rebellion movement that blossomed in England late last year calls on
XRI said that it is calling on the Government to declare a “state of climate emergency”, immediately implement the Citizens Assembly’s climate recommendations, and ensure a just transition away from fossil fuels.
Grips of mass extinction
Invited speakers include Brid Smith TD, who has tabled a Bill to limit the issuing of future fossil fuel exploration licenses, and environmental journalist and campaigner John Gibbons who said that the world “is already in the grip of a mass extinction event”.
“Extinctions are sweeping through the animal kingdom, on land and at sea. Insects are dying out at a terrifying rate, and we depend absolutely on these creatures for our own survival. If nature goes, it’s taking us with it. The sooner we wake up to realise this, the better,” he added.
A report from the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London released last October found that 60 per cent of the world’s large animals had disappeared since the 1970s.
Earlier this month, a paper in the journal Biological Conservation found that scientists are currently seeing rapid rates of decline in insect populations worldwide. Up to 40 per cent of insect species, including species of bees and butterflies, may be extinct in the coming decades, the study warned.
Ireland is “not immune to such problems”, XRI said, with one in every four species threatened with extinction here. “This is a truly shocking legacy that we are handing on to future generations”.
Susan Breen, a People Before Profit local election candidate for Wexford, said that she will travel to Dublin as just one of many people “prepared to rise up in rebellion to save what we can of our future”.
“We are ready, to take action, to fight back, to begin the courageous conversations within our community. This is just the beginning and we will never stop,” she said.
Irish species in decline
Around one-third of Ireland’s 98 wild bee species are threatened with extinction, while recent findings show that over 60 per cent of the 202 species of commonly occurring birds in Ireland is now on the red and amber conservation lists.
Speaking at Ireland’s first ever biodiversity conference last week, President Michael D Higgins told the audience that the timeframe to transform our world to make space for nature is “perilously short”.
“Around the world, the library of life that has evolved over billions of years – our biodiversity – is being destroyed, poisoned, polluted, invaded, fragmented, plundered, drained and burned at a rate not seen in human history,” he said.
The President landed the blame well and truly on the human race, with only a quarter of the world’s terrestrial surface left untouched by human activity that has “multiplied the normal rate of extinction at least one hundred-fold”.