If you’re into eco-friendly living, you’ve probably heard the term “biodiversity” bandied around but what is it and why does it matter?
Why Is Biodiversity Important?
You don’t need to be an ecocentrist to understand that biodiversity loss can be devastating for the planet.
Biodiversity refers to the full range of biological diversity that can be found on the planet around us. Biodiversity underpins every aspect of the ecosystem that we live in. Ecosystem services such as clean air and water, depend on plants, bacteria, and more.
In fact, biodiversity is vital every single moment of our existence and not just on Earth Day (which does a great job of drawing attention to the value of biodiversity).
6 Good Reasons For Everyone To Value Biodiversity
In 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 150 countries came together to agree that biodiversity loss was no longer acceptable and that each country would commit to the conservation of the variety of plants and animals within their jurisdictions.
And they came up with some excellent reasons to preserve biodiversity at the same time and they included;
Sure, a loss of biodiversity impacts a whole range of things including climate change, plants, animals, etc. in the natural world but, perhaps, the best argument to sustain biodiversity is that a culture, such as ours, that lives as though biodiversity is important by focusing on the variety of life and species on the planet and by providing protected areas, etc. to ensure this diversity is simply morally preferable to one that does not do so.
The human species is not an island in the world but one thing humans should be aware of is that biodiversity provides healthy ecosystems and ecosystems provide beauty and that beauty enriches all of our lives.
Who hasn’t watched the sunset over mountains or the sea and been enthralled by the aesthetic power of the sight?
The Relationships Between All Life On Earth
Our ecosystems serve our needs. Think about the simple process of death.
If there were no plants, fungi, bacteria, and animals, whenever something died, it would simply remain in the same place, forever.
We would rapidly run out of resources as when the dead decay, they return nutrients to the ecosystems around them, and life on this Earth would be very unpleasant, indeed.
And yes, climate change, is, in part, a serious concern because of the potential impact on biodiversity and while projects like the Biodiversity Heritage Library are valuable, humans must do more if they don’t want to become an endangered species themselves.
The Potential For Economic And Material Benefits
As a species, one thing we all seem to understand is the potential for profit and the natural world is full of ways for us to benefit both materially and economically as long as we preserve the life around us.
Think about trees, for example, which provide wood from which we can craft shelter for our own families or which we can trade to others so that they can build homes or factories, etc.
If we replant trees and cultivate the land, we have an endless source of potential benefits. But if we fail to continue this cycle, we hurt ourselves.
Not just because the climate of the Earth depends, very much, on the byproducts of trees but also because we can no longer profit from these trees.
Continued Evolutionary Processes
One thing is certain in evolutionary theory (and much else is not) and that is that a species tends to evolve when subject to external pressures.
This was, of course, what Charles Darwin observed when he studied the biodiversity of the Galapagos islands.
A tortoise grows a longer neck when the natural environment places plants at higher levels and it needs to reach those plants. Without biodiversity, evolution itself would come to a halt.
Insurance (E.G. Human Health May Depend On It)
We’ve all just lived through a time of Covid-19 and one of the things that were observed in the early days of the epidemic was that our methods of animal rearing were exposing us to more and more “zoonotic” diseases (diseases that jump from species to species).
Had we left our food supply to nature and tradition, it is entirely possible that things wouldn’t have turned out this way.
We also have no idea what we will need from nature in the future. What if we make a plant extinct this year and then next year we need it to cure a brand new and far more deadly disease than Covid-19?
Biodiversity is a form of insurance for the human race.
It should be obvious, by now, that biodiversity is of international importance and that we rely on the wild habitats of the world as much as communities of bees or plants do.
Our well-being and the well-being of everything on the planet depend on conservation and ensuring that the environment around us supports as many natural resources as possible.