Friday, April 15, 2011

The Race Against Extinction

What can one person do to halt the alarming increase in biodiversity loss?

You can join the Ecolympics. You can act on the suggestions in our blog.

And you can put your boots to the ground and join the Race Against Extinction, a 5K race this Sunday starting at Artesani Park in Boston.

Jeff Neterval started the race in 2008 thanks to his daughter's passion for animal's and E.O. Wilson's The Future of Life, which he read in 2001. Jeff writes that "Professor Wilson's calculation and message then that for $30 billion humankind could preserve over 70% of the world's species by conserving a number of our planet's biodiversity 'hot spots' was the inspiration."

Their mission is to both "raise awareness for preserving our planet's precious biodiversity and raise funds for organizations such as Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund to help them with their conservation efforts".

"Oh yeah," Jeff adds, "we also want to do this while having a good time!"

Jeff and his group held the first Race Against Extinction 5K on Earth Day in 2008 as an informal experiment (no permit) along the Charles along the Esplanade. It was a cold rainy week night. They managed to muster 8 participants. Proceeds were delivered to The Nature Conservancy. The original 8 and friends made along the way organized the second annual Race Against Extinction on April 17, 2010. They registered over 150 participants and raised approximately $8000 combined with a matching program for the World Wildlife Fund's Year of the Tiger campaign.

Jeff isn't kidding when he talks about having fun while doing this. The Race Against Extinction
even has a guy crazy enough to have run marathons dressed as a polar bear to help promote the cause... Last year, the polar bear ran the full Chicago Marathon in 87 degree weather. Now that's being committed to your cause!

This year, Jeff has had no outside sponsors and has funded the race himself. He's up against two big scheduling events too: Palm Sunday and the Boston marathon's popular 5k event. But willing participants will be recognized with protecting an acre of rain forest on Conservation International's Protect an Acre of rain forest.

Habitat fragmentation and deforestation are two of the main causes of the present biodiversity crisis, so protecting an acre of rain forest is an excellent and tangible way to do something positive for endangered species. I personally love the idea of being able to peer down into the Amazon on Google Earth and know that I helped to protect an acre.

It's amazing what one person can do: one person can organize a race that gets dozens of other people out for the same cause. I'll be there on Sunday. What about you -- ready to lace up your shoes and join the Race Against Extinction?

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