hHistory is all human—busy with wars, emperors, and land grabs. Yet, it is our relationship with animals that has changed the face of the planet, going back as far as our mammoth-hunting days 30,000 years ago.

We went where the meat went, following the herd migration of mammoth-like animals across the vast cold grasslands of the steppe, which stretches from central France to Alaska in the Northern Hemisphere, the largest terrestrial biome on the planet. The soil was fertile, and the fodder was rich. An adult mammoth can consume more than 400 pounds of herbivores a day and disperse a vast ton of fertilizer, ensuring a continuous cycle of nutrients. We hunted and hunted. As the herds dwindled, our skills improved. Large mammals with long gestations and few offspring could not reproduce in numbers or in time to replace themselves. We could never have imagined the damage, let alone the effects on the entire ecosystem. Without extensive grazing and dispersal of seeds and nutrients, the grassland became dominated by tundra vegetation, which became uncultivated, waterlogged and frozen, turning into acid peat where grasses struggled to regrow. It was lying

Then we became farmers. No need to run after food anymore: we grew it. Or turned it into a warm, living larder. But they will need to be protected, and they are the seeds of our 12,000-year war against nature. The way we thought about animals was reflected in how we treated them. We arranged the natural world into a hierarchy, a narrow ladder that one climbed, getting hotter and better all the way up to the male (and the female one rung below). We weren’t a branch of the evolutionary tree – we were the top. Thus, we are separated from the interconnected community of which we are a part.

We used to have dominion over the animals and ordered them to tame and multiply themselves. This connection has shaped our minds, our lives, our land, our civilization and will shape our future. The animals had to serve us. But without them we would not have gone very far. They provided meat, milk, furs, leather, wool, fertilizer, pulling power, and then horsepower. We can cut down forests, straighten rivers or stop them altogether.

Although we are tropical animals, we have used our large brains to exceed our natural limits to occupy every possible ecological niche. No ecosystem is immune to us. And now we’re in trouble. Yet our protectors are all around us. What’s more, they can do it for free.

Read more: what do humans do to animals

Take, for example, the sperm whale, which defecates 50 ton iron fertilizer Every year in the upper layer of the sea where plants grow. phytoplankton takes up more CO2 as terrestrial plants, seed cloud that reflect sunlight, and provides half of our oxygen, Phytoplankton feed on plankton which feed on krill which feed on small fish which feed on larger fish. The presence of whales enhances marine life. A great whale’s body at the end of its life takes 33 tonnes of carbon, captured over a 70-year life span, to the sea bed, removing it from the atmosphere for centuries. What is its ecological impact? Or the effect of his loss? Suppose 10 produces children, which produces 10 children, which produces 10 children, and so on. The devastating population impact would have been unprecedented prior to 19th-century commercial whaling. Imagine if we could protect recovering populations of great whales and allow them to thrive in our oceans. In Chile, a network of smart acoustic buoys monitor The location of the whales and provide shipping with alternative routes—the world’s first role-playing whale. Save the whales to save the ocean to save the planet. Whales can come to our rescue.

or beaver. The life-giving power of fresh water is the expertise of otters, nature’s architects and engineers. After centuries of greedy fur trade, the loss of otters affected the hydrology of the land. the streams dried up; beaver meadow The tinderbox dried up and wildfires began to rage. Now, beavers are making a comeback not only in Americabut in british rivers Also, not seen since the 16th century.

Engaged in stemming flood waters and creating dynamic habitats to coexist with life, vegans can fix life support system Browsing, grazing, growing roots, fertilizing, opening glades, aerating the soil and transporting seeds for free. Predators will keep them from overgrazing. These dynamic natural processes can solve some of our biggest challenges: fire risk, flood mitigation, soil health, insect decline, carbon sequestration. It’s the most exciting environmental fix ever—with feet. a situation Study It is estimated that growing populations of just nine major groups of animals (sharks, gray wolves, sea otters, musk oxen, wildebeest, saltwater fish, American bison, African elephants and whales) capture an additional 6.41 gigatonnes of CO2 each year. facility can be provided. In fact, this is the amount calculated to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Animals maintain ecosystems that take CO2 out of the atmosphere and their absence can trigger breakdowns that turn carbon sinks into carbon sources.

It’s not just the big animals. Where would we be without insects to pollinate plants? (Above a tree with a feather duster.) Pollinators such as bees, moths, butterflies, beetles and flies have a global economic benefit $500 billion a year, and insects are indispensable in the food web. Yet chemicals like neonicotinoids depopulate around the world indiscriminately, and these short-term benefits have long-term costs. Systemic neonicotinoids have a long residual life and are water soluble, and we cannot feed the planet from degraded soil. Soil is one of the richest ecosystems on Earth. Billions of organisms within it provide innumerable services from recycling to decomposition to aeration. There is more carbon in the soil than in the atmosphere and all the plants and animals combined. Plato lamented the destruction of soil and forests in ancient Greece 2,500 years ago; pollen analysis Trees have been cut down to reveal fertile lands of rich soil long washed away – many turned into ships for war and colonisation.

War, money and power have always taken precedence over nature. But imagine if nature took precedence. Imagine if understanding came before fear or quick profit. Imagine if we could all view our animal cousins ​​as miraculous eco-engineers (and they are individual beings) and protect their potential and their homes, oceans, rivers, grasslands, wetlands and forests. To re-imagine our home, we have to start by re-imagining theirs. Trying to put yourself in their whale skin or bison fur. Complex creatures are at one level quite simple, requiring space, water, food, shelter and mates, just as we do. In addition to all the free services and natural capital they provide, they have another invaluable commodity: pure joy.

Imagine a global commons of ocean conservation areas that are bold and big and serious, seeding the ocean around them. It’s not hard to imagine—we’re already helping to make it happen. Bald eagles, once on the fringes, are back in American skies; The wolf howls on the brow of the Spanish hills; In 1941, there were just 21 whooping crane and now there are 800; Sea otters are relocating, stopping urchins great kelp forest, one of the most dynamic ecosystems on the planet; and the blue whales are back south atlantic sea The largest breathing animal on Earth nearly disappeared after 60 years of hunting whales, including mothers and calves, around South Georgia.

Life supports life. Animals are the main ones. Diversity and abundance are strengths. Animals could save us. The irony is that now only we can save them.

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