Humans should start preserving nature: health exec-A A +A
Saturday, November 27, 2010
A TOP health official said on Friday that the practice of massive harvesting of nature should be stopped in order to preserve "our life support system."
Speaking at the 1st Davao Biodiversity Summit at the Marco Polo Hotel on Friday, Health Assistant Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial warned that "everything in the world is connected" and that massive harvesting may cause damage to biodiversity.
Ubial stressed that the shark trade today has been raking in profits for big time fishers "so great that its only rival in profit is the illicit drug trade."
"The shark is one animal that we fear the most (but) maybe the one animal that we cannot live without. Sharks are major sea predators if they disappear the balance of the seas will be destroyed," Ubial said.
She added that if sharks disappear, many small fishes will thrive and eat the planktons. Planktons provide 75 percent of the oxygen that people breathe on land. "We would be in trouble if planktons disappear," she said.
"Ninety percent of sharks have been harvested in this century alone. If we change the oceans, we change life on earth," she said.
Ubial called sharks as the architects of nature, having survived five major extinctions of the earth. "They have not changed in the last 500 million years."
She said sharks are not the worst killers in the world but infectious diseases caused by urbanization.
"Five people a year are accidentally killed by sharks; 100 by elephants and tigers; 2,400 by execution; 1,200,000 by road accidents; 8,000,000 from starvation; and 10,000,000 from infectious diseases including HIV/Aids, malaria and TB," she said.
Ubial said variety in nature is the secret for balance. Human health depends on the healthy functioning of the natural ecosystems.
"Having monocultures create massive epidemics and disease. This is what we are seeing in the mega-cities and effects of urbanization," Ubial said.
"Destruction of species and mismanagement of the Ecosystem can result in spread of diseases in humans, animals and plants. Preserving the variety of life on Earth is at the heart of our efforts to relieve suffering, raise standards of living and attaining the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals)" she said.
Ubial also shared how plants have been source to medicines and how animals have become inspiration to technology advancement.
"Periwinkle is anti-cancer; fungus for penicillin and antibiotics; frog as anti-coagulant (Heparin); leeches as immune enhancer; bark of macopa muniera as HIV treatment, anti-viral," she said.
She said studying nature has enhanced human life. The locust sensory system was inspiration for collision avoidance systems for cars; the bat sonar capacities for the sonar application in medicine, the ultrasound; the flight pattern of bees developed into helicopter science; and dragonfly aerodynamics paved way for micro-aero vehicles and cameras, she added.
People can do their part in preserving biodiversity, Ubial said, by adopting green practices.
Apply practices that lessen the destruction of nature, such as:
* Taking public transportation, bike, walk or carpool to their destination;
* Buying organic food at once a week;
* Install at least one compact fluorescent bulb in homes to reduce carbon emissions in power plants;
* Turn off lights and aircon and other appliances when not used;
* Stop using herbicides and pesticides in homes and gardens; and
* Above all, do not waste. Buy only what you need. And reduce, reuse, and recycle. (Jade C. Zaldivar)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on November 28, 2010.