Biodiversity Loss: A Threat To Both The Environment And Humanity

BIODIVERSITY LOSS: A THREAT TO BOTH THE ENVIRONMENT AND HUMANITY 

“Nobody really knows the exact number of living species, though estimates range from 10 to 15 million. What is certain is that the pace of extinction is growing.” 

Does biodiversity and ecosystem degradation really have implications on both the environment and humans? Have you wondered if a small frog going extinct in the rainforest far away from you affects your life? The answer is a surprising yes! Read on to find out how. 

WHY IS BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM IMPORTANT? 

Biodiversity is critical to the survival of the five major ecosystems on which all life depends: agricultural, marine, forest, freshwater, and grassland. Plant diversity plays critical roles at the centre of these ecosystems, from water purification to carbon and nitrogen recycling, our lives depend on plants in more ways than we realize. 

Because living things interact with each other in dynamic ecosystems, the extinction of one species can have far-reaching consequences on other species depending on it. Therefore, the resilience of an ecosystem is increased through diversity. In addition to food systems, biodiversity also balances disease prevention, clean air, clean water, good soil, climate change adaptation, reducing the impact of natural disasters, etc. It is hard to predict the effects of mass extinction on human population, but we do know that for the time being, the diversity of nature allows us to thrive. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CPLAZdMso35/

BUT WHY ARE WE LOSING OUR BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEMS? 

Even though species extinction does occur in nature, the consequences of humans and their actions have outweighed the natural extinction process. Let us look at some of the major reasons for biodiversity loss: 

  1. CLIMATE CHANGE ASSOCIATED WITH GLOBAL WARMING 

As the planet is getting warmer, it is causing the temperature and rainfall patterns to shift. This causes the natural order of reproduction and resource availability to get disturbed, further disturbing the lifecycle of species depending on their surroundings. For example, ecosystems that rely on the presence of ice diminish as melting degrades them. 

  1. OVEREXPLOITATION 

Overexploitation (overhunting and overfishing) is the practice of harvesting an excessive number of aquatic or terrestrial animals or plants. Overfishing is a grave concern, reducing populations of marine life, causing disbalance in our marine systems. 

  1. INVASIVE SPECIES CAUSE BIODIVERSITY LOSS. 

Any non-native species that disrupts the ecosystems is considered as invasive. They can cause ecosystem disruption because they may consume resources meant for the natural populations. Some invading species prey on native species, and if the natives lack natural defenses against the invaders, they may be wiped out quickly. 

  1. HABITAT LOSS 

The thinning, fragmentation, degradation, or outright eradication of an organism from the ecosystem it relies on is referred to as habitat loss. Imagine your entire family being restricted to one small room (with resources enough for only one) or being kicked out of your home entirely, while your food, water, and other resources get taken away from you as well. 

  1. POLLUTION 

The quality of food, water, and other resources deteriorates in polluted areas, causing species to relocate or perish. According to research conducted in 2014 the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, 12% of the brown pelicans and more than 30% of the laughing gulls in the spill area had been wiped off. Whole species may be lost in the aftermath of a major single pollution event or over combined pressure of multiple pollution events in a region. 

HOW CAN WE HELP REDUCE BIODIVERSITY LOSS? 

Our daily actions decide the lives of our Earth’s biological diversity. How can we help biodiversity loss in our daily activities? 

  1. Use natural products. They reduce pollution by decreasing chemical ingredients, energy use, water consumption and the need for landfills. Animals, birds, and fish die from accumulation of consumed plastics found in our daily products, or choke on them. 
  1. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products. Chemicals, cleaners, detergents that enter the sewer system can contaminate freshwater and ocean ecosystems. 
  1. Plant native trees, leave native plants undisturbed and landscape urban spaces using native trees and vegetation. Native plants are adapted to local conditions and provide low-maintenance, drought-resistant gardens and can prevent local flooding. 
  1. Protect old trees and mature forests. Large trees provide nest cavities for many species which cannot be replaced by new plantations. 
  1. Eat and wear organic as much as possible. Pesticides, insecticides, and oil sprays used to grow food and cash crops enter our soil and water bodies, severely harming ecosystems they enter. 
  1. Identify locations of critical wildlife habitat. Where possible, eliminate threats to these areas and maintain their natural form.  
  1. Leave natural areas undisturbed. Care for every living creature as a valuable part of its ecosystem, be it a bug, plant, or an animal.  
  1. Encourage and support local government initiatives that protect habitat and decrease threats to biodiversity. Fragmenting or splitting up forests are more harmful to wildlife and biodiversity than we realize. 
  1. Learn as much as you can about nature and share your knowledge to help spread the word about the seriousness of the issue so that more people can support. 
  1. Volunteer at an organization that focuses on conservation or restoration of habitat. 
  1. Be a conscious consumer. Our water use, plastic use, electricity use, fuel use, everything affects the biodiversity around us.  

We are all a deeply connected system and our actions affect everything around us. Small steps can together make a substantial change; let us begin in our own little ways! 

SOURCES: 

https://www.britannica.com/study/learn-about-the-causes-of-biodiversity-loss

https://www.iberdrola.com/sustainability/biodiversity-loss

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/society/20200109STO69929/biodiversity-loss-what-is-causing-it-and-why-is-it-a-concern

https://globalissuesnetwork.org/learn-about-our-global-issues/biodiversity-and-ecosystem-loss/

https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/causes-and-consequences-of-biodiversity-declines-16132475/

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