Ecologists say that the greatest difference between the present mass extinction and those of the past is that today's extinctions are entirely due to the activities of a single species--Homo sapiens, or human beings. We are the sole species in the history of life to have the capacity to cause a mass extinction of many other species.
Human activities, including the clearing of forests, the spread of agriculture, the introduction of animals into new environments, and the pollution of air, water, and soil, account for almost all of the extinctions of the last several thousand years. Scientists predict that as the human population grows and human activities increase, the problem will become more serious.
In addition to acknowledging human beings' capacity to destroy, scientists say we should remember that we are also the sole species to ever have the capacity to save others. In this way, the current episode of extinction can be seen not so much as an insurmountable problem, but as a glorious challenge.
We can share beaches and ocean with sea turtles but it requires commitment and effort on our part. We can make
certain that future generations will have the opportunity to know these unusual animals. The late Dr. Archie Carr, a
scientist and author who almost single-handedly began to turn the tide on the extinction of sea turtles, summed it up when he wrote, "For most of the wild things on earth the future must depend upon the conscience of mankind."
Our planet has come to an unprecedented point in its history where the actions of one species--man--will determine the fate of life on earth. It is not too late to ensure a future for sea turtles.
Victoria B. Van Meter
Florida's Sea Turtles