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An opinion piece


My name is Tatiana Latreille, Chris Morgan and I first met when I wrote an article about him and his work during my Journalism undergrad at Toronto Metropolitan University. I then became the first Chris Morgan Wildlife intern! Now, a graduate, I do several different tasks for CMW, one being a blog writer.

Because of COVID-19 China was unable to host COP15 in their country, so it was moved to Montreal….right beside my building. What an amazing coincidence, a cause that is so close to my heart is located so close to where I live. This became the perfect opportunity to write about the event and what it means to the world… and me.

The climate crisis is at the forefront when talking about environmental disturbances. Although it is one of the most critical phenomena our species must tackle, solving the biodiversity crisis must be at the frontline of this fight. As we have heard from many scientists, we may be experiencing the sixth mass extinction, and we seem to be the culprits. The Guardian listed the five most significant causes of the mass extinction:

  • habitat loss by the expansion of farming,

  • direct exploitation of natural resources,

  • the climate crisis,

  • pollution

  • and invasive species.

So this is where COP15 comes into play. We are trying to handle this global tragedy through collaboration. It is a reminder that, at the core, we are all connected in the fight to reverse our past mistakes.

The Conference also sheds light on our frustrating ideological and perspective differences on the issue. "The largest risks are distracted global leaders, some outright opponents of ambitious action on biodiversity, and the failure of wealthy nations to provide adequate financing to implement an agreement" (Brian O'Donnell, National Post).

The primary causality, in my opinion, comes from the loss of connection people have to the environment.

We feel far from the issue because the impacts are slow, or we only see said impacts on the internet and not in our own backyard; because of this the rise to action can be slow. However, when the urgency is there, we quickly find solutions. The world flipped upside down when COVID-19 hit, and we quickly and efficiently tackled the mission ahead. I believe it all boils down to whether the person, community or government sees the issue as affecting them and their livelihood.

COP15 banner just outside of my building. (Tatiana Latreille)

Having COP15 next door reminds me of how close and impacted I am by the biodiversity crisis. My livelihood is affected by the presence of the Conference with an increase in traffic, blocked entrances, an increase in police presence and protests blocking streets around my building.

I'm not watching this unfold on the internet but with my own eyes, which makes all of this more real. This may be an inconvenience to some of my neighbours, but this is an exciting time for me. It brings the issue home. I always watch these events online, but to feel this energy at my doorstep is exhilarating and inspiring.

The impacts of the degradation of our environment are in the "backyard" of all Canadians. "There are no Gray whales in the Atlantic Ocean anymore. The island marble butterfly and Pacific pond turtle have disappeared from B.C. And, in Ontario, the paddlefish and timber rattlesnake are locally extinct. Wetlands have been drained, grasslands destroyed, and old-growth forests systematically cleared" (Ainslie Cruickshank, the Narwhal), just to name a few.

Outside of Place d'Armes, where the conference is taking place. (Tatiana Latreille)

Over the next two weeks, delegates will discuss how to: "eliminate the subsidies harmful to nature, increase conserved areas, ensure effective management of land and waters that respects and safeguards the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and recover and conserve species at risk of extinction"(Ainslie Cruickshank, the Narwhal). What seems to be the mutual goal at this point for all is to protect 30% of the lands and seas by 2030. This is a minimum in trying to keep a “healthy” ecological balance, but at least with these numbers, we can find common ground.

Since previous global targets to tackle biodiversity loss in 2002 and 2010 were unsuccessful, I am starting to feel the tension around COP15. As Pheobe Weston says, "this year's COP15 is more important than ever because we are setting the next decade's biodiversity target."

COP 15 also brings up another issue. How can you impact people who are not interested in saving the environment? I wish being empathetic and caring about every living thing was something all humans prioritized, but it isn't the case. These conferences show us the challenge of finding a middle ground. How do you sell the importance of a healthy ecosystem as a benefit to all, even to a consumeristic population, its corporations and its governments? Throughout my undergrad, I grappled a lot with this question.

Protests in Montreal/ banner representing the indigenous voice and the connection of all living things. (Tatiana Latreille)

Although the reality of what is happening to our planet is daunting, it's essential to stay optimistic and vigilant. "The goal is to bend the curve," and rebuilding is still possible (Pheobe Weston, the Guardian). If anything, we need to be inspired, motivated and excited about the opportunities ahead.

I also can get overwhelmed by the news and the state of things, but this is also a time of regrowth. We CAN fix the mistakes made, we CAN change our destiny and those to come and we CAN learn to reconnect with our wildlife and ecosystems. That’s what needs to be done at the core, a reconnection, and it starts at home.

If you would like to read more about COP15 here are some great sources:

More details on the COP15 summit are in this informative article by The Narwhal

and this short video on biodiversity.

I highly recommend this link for those who want to learn how to close the gap between us and future generations, check out this site The Good Ancestor .

Be sure to check out THE WILD podcast with Chris Morgan, produced in partnership with KUOW some episodes of which pertain to our biodiversity. Just to name a few:

Make it like it was: Clean, cold and flowing Gold Creek of Snoqualmie Pass

Dr. James is surveying the number of fish in the river after a recent restoration project. Gold Creek is an important tributary to the Yakima River and serves as a breeding ground for many fish that are important to the Yakama Nation. Listen here

'Two-eyed seeing' as a way to decolonize western science

There’s a way to understand nature through the perspectives of indigenous knowledge and western science side by side. It’s a concept known as “two-eyed seeing.” Listen here

The Comeback Cat: Spain’s Iberian lynx

How did what used to be the rarest cat on earth leap a staggering 1000% in number in just 20 years? Listen here.

These people want to create Portugal’s ecological utopia

A curious story of fires, Stone Age art, rural abandonment, and a mission to bring back an entire forest ecosystem. Listen here.

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