Loss of our greatest asset – biodiversity
The diversity of life on our planet is defined as the variability among living organisms from all sources, including diversity within species, between species, and ecosystems.
Biodiversity like so includes not only the millions of varied species on Earth, but it also consists of the diverse types of different ecosystems, marine and terrestrial, in which human societies live and on which their livelihoods depend, such as forests, wetlands, coastal areas, and mountains.
One might hear, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, will I lose the ability to grow crops? Will I lose the ability to harvest wood? Will this have an impact on the tourist inflow to my hotel? Will my favorite holiday location ever be the same as it was? Potentially the answer is – Yes, to all these questions.
Biodiversity ultimately provides us all with essential survival opportunities, such as sources of food, materials, and occupational, recreational opportunities. The Earth’s biological resources are vital to humanity’s economic and social development. As a result, there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to preserve for future generations.
And yet... biodiversity loss continues at an alarming rate on a global scale. This is arguable because its value as underpinning human well-being is still not fully understood and integrated into good governance practices by public and private decision-makers.
And yes, we know... solving the problem of declining biodiversity has been on the international agenda for some decades now. The appreciation of the severity of the problem, however, is changing very slowly... It often feels like it takes a tragedy for us to really see things clearly!
This summer (2022), for instance, is still on track to be the fifth warmest year on record in most datasets. The northern hemisphere, particularly continental Europe, the UK, and parts of the US, saw the warmest temperatures on record with record-breaking heatwaves. If such warming rates continue, by 2030 global temperatures will increase by more than 1.5°C compared to before the industrial revolution.
Empirical studies show that deviations from average location-specific temperatures are impacting the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem function. As seen more every year, many areas all over the planet have already begun to experience abnormal weather patterns, such as extended periods of extreme temperatures or lower precipitation, resulting in changes in habitats. These changes in ambient conditions mean that more species undergo thermal stress and as a result become functionally redundant. That consequently impacts the productivity and stability of ecosystems. Substantial evidence exists across diverse biomes that ecosystems with higher levels of biodiversity are also more productive and stable. In layman’s terms, rising global temperatures have the potential to alter ecosystems over longer periods by changing what can grow and live within them. So yes, the places and spaces you have been accustomed to, might literally never look, and serve you in the same capacity.
Of course, such environmental changes directly impact the way ecosystems can support and service us, humans. Furthermore, the loss of biodiversity-dependent ecosystem services has disproportionate effects on people who are vulnerable for other reasons, including gender, age, disability, poverty, or minority status. Hence, the impact of biodiversity loss on the productivity and stability of ecosystems is a major concern. Under the circumstances, we see it as proof enough that we are, in fact, on the straight trajectory towards losing our planet’s greatest asset.
This again, is no new fact, as biodiversity is included in numerous goals and targets. More notoriously, in the central, transformative promise and principle ‘Leave No One Behind’ of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Leave No One Behind
“The full enjoyment of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, and water, depends on the services provided by ecosystems. The provision of ecosystem services depends on the health and sustainability of ecosystems, which in turn depend on biodiversity. The full enjoyment of human rights thus depends on biodiversity, and the degradation and loss of biodiversity undermine the ability of human beings to enjoy their human rights.” (UN Human Rights Council, 34th Session)
And now on a more practical note, to get everyone involved-->
As we, at BeCause, were contemplating the topic of biodiversity, naturally we looked for some easy-to-understand sources of information regarding this topic. Here we take the opportunity to share some of our favorite finds with you in the hope that they will prove valuable to you and drive positive outcomes to preserve our beautiful planet!
- UN Biodiversity Lab, where the user can find the needed biodiversity-related information by geographic location. We were quite upset to find out that the Biodiversity Intactness Index for Denmark was only 12%… Click here
- EU Biodiversity Strategy Actions Tracker, shows the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the EU and its Member States' progress towards made commitments to implement more than 100 actions by 2030. Click here
- Read about the FAO’s work related to biodiversity. Click here
- Read fresh articles on various biodiversity subtopics on the Guardian's homepage. Click here
- Educate yourself and contribute with research on, The Zooniverse. A people-powered research platform that is made possible by volunteers and features research results in new discoveries, datasets useful to the wider research community, and various publications. Click here
- Read about the IUCN's work, a membership union of government and civil society organizations that monitors species and ecosystems, and steers policy and action to protect and restore the natural world. Click here
- For science enthusiasts, make sure to visit daily the Science Daily homepage. Click here
- Read and take action by visiting WWF's homepage. Click here
- A must-read for culture and travel enthusiasts, read and get inspired for your next travel destination. Click here