The Stuff You Buy Is Destroying Animals Around the World


This map shows the species threat hotspots caused by US consumption. The darker the color, the greater the threat caused by the consumption. The magenta color represents terrestrial species, while the blue represents marine species. Image: Moran, D. & Kanemoto, K. Identifying species threat hotspots from global supply chains. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 1, 0023 (2017)
This map shows the species threat hotspots caused by US consumption. The darker the color, the greater the threat caused by the consumption. The magenta color represents terrestrial species, while the blue represents marine species. Image: Moran, D. & Kanemoto, K. Identifying species threat hotspots from global supply chains. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 1, 0023 (2017)
There are certain products that everyone knows are directly destructive to wildlife. As such, most people and countries around the world generally try to avoid them. Using ivory for trinkets causes elephant slaughter; eating shark fins—you guessed it—is not good for sharks. But those are easy to give up, because a.) we don’t need any of them, and b.) they very blatantly come from certain wild animals.

By Grennan Milliken | MOTHERBOARD

Much of the things we use in daily life, however, from iPhones, to jeans, to Ikea furniture, also have negative impacts on endangered wildlife around the globe. But how can you tell? In an attempt to answer that question, scientists from Norway and Japan used a global trade model to trace consumer demands around the world to threats on endangered wildlife. They’ve created a series of maps based on their findings that show the threat “hotspots” around the world and what countries are endangering them. The rationale is that if you know where in the supply chain you’re doing the most damage, you can take steps to alleviate it. Their findings are published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The researchers calculated the consumer threats to 6,803 species of endangered and threatened species around the world as defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Birdlife International—both authorities on endangered flora and fauna. From this, they tied the threat zones to a consumer product in another country. For example, soy used in meals in the US may have been grown in a swath of cut down rainforest in Brazil. The Amazon is the most biodiverse place on Earth, so that swath of rainforest likely displaced multitudes of endangered animals. Or maybe your t-shirt was made in a textile mill in Indonesia—that exists where a forest full of Sumatran orangutans once stood.

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