What Are the Biggest Environmental Concerns? - Biodiversity
Oct 19 2018
As 2018 comes to an end and we prepare for 2019, it’s vital that we’re all entering the new year with open eyes and an awareness of the biggest environmental concerns. That’s where we come in. Our 6-part series will focus on the 5 top environmental concerns for 2019.
To kick things off, we’re going to take a look at biodiversity, how it’s changing and how that could impact our environment.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth, in all its forms and interactions. Sounds simple, right? In reality, biodiversity is the most complex and vital feature of our planet.
You may not even realise it, but each living thing on this earth affects us and our environment. The air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink is all reliant on the biodiversity of our world.
Of course, we all know that without plants, there would be no oxygen and without bees, there would be no fruit and nuts. But, did you know the importance of coral reefs or spider monkeys? Perhaps not. Each and every living thing on earth has a purpose and influences much wider processes.
Why is biodiversity an environmental concern?
Life on earth has suffered 5 mass extinctions of biodiversity in the planet’s long history. Many of the mass extinctions have been caused by natural disasters, such as meteorite collisions, volcanic eruptions and ice ages. But some scientists are suggesting that a 6th mass extinction has already begun. A 6th mass extinction would be very different to the first 5, however, as it would be caused by humans.
Humans and our livestock now consume between 25-40% of earth’s entire ‘primary production’ – the energy used by plants to fuel themselves, which all biodiversity is dependent upon. The intricacy of life has also been disrupted over the last 10,000 years, with humans relocating different species around the world. These predatory species can destroy ecosystems that have never evolved to defend themselves.
How bad is the problem?
Things are already pretty bad and they’re only getting worse. Billions of individual populations have been and continue to be lost all over the planet. In fact, the number of animals living on earth has halved since 1970. Even the loss of the smallest parasites and insects could spark the end of life as we know it.
What can be done?
As humans, we are the primary cause of the loss of biodiversity on earth. We could also be the solution. Stopping the widespread felling of forests is just one thing we can do to ensure biodiversity can flourish. Poaching and hunting for food is another major factor in the loss of biodiversity.
Most of the wildlife is being destroyed by land being cleared for cattle, soy, palm oil, timber and leather. So, choosing only sustainable options can help, as would eating less meat, especially beef.
Water pollution is another cause of biodiversity loss. To find out more, check out our next post on water as an environmental concern, or read the article ‘Micropollutants, Contaminants of Emerging Concern and endocrine disruptors in treated water’.
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