The planet’s biodiversity is under threat and the main culprit is the one who, paradoxically, depends on it the most: human beings.
Halting the loss of biodiversity, understood as the decrease or disappearance of the variety of living beings that inhabit the planet is one of the great challenges facing humanity. Below, we review the causes, consequences, and possible solutions.
What are the consequences of biodiversity loss?
Biodiversity is understood as the variety of living beings that populate the Earth: humans, animals, plants, microorganisms, and fungi.
Biodiversity includes ecosystem diversity, species diversity, and genetic diversity.
Biodiversity loss refers to the decrease or disappearance of biological diversity, understood as the variety of living beings that inhabit the planet, the different levels of biological organization (plants, animals, fungi, microorganisms, and their respective genetic variability) as well as the natural patterns present in ecosystems.
The loss of biodiversity is so severe that it is considered the “Sixth Mass Extinction” with extinction rates 100 to 1000 times higher than those considered natural, one of the aspects that characterize the Anthropocene.
It is estimated that by the year 2100, land-use change, climate change, modification of the nitrogen cycle and invasive species will be the main drivers of global biodiversity loss; the first three factors are also planetary boundaries.
The aforementioned elements, as well as the legal and illegal exploitation of wild species, can be considered the direct causes of biodiversity loss (the immediate physical actions or processes that give rise to it), but it is important to point out that there are also indirect or underlying causes, i.e. the fundamental forces that operate diffusely on the direct causes and are made up of a complex of social, political, economic, demographic, technological and cultural variables
That is why the loss of biodiversity has serious consequences for human life and the ecosystems where life develops.
These consequences are as follows:
Loss of quality of life
And it is no exaggeration to say that the loss of biodiversity is a direct threat to human survival because it endangers human food, health, and well-being.
Climate change plays a dual role in biodiversity, because, while it is one of the main causes of biodiversity loss, it is also one of the main consequences.
Climate change originates from the greenhouse effect which, in turn, is caused by the combustion of fossil fuels, mainly oil, coal, and natural gas that release methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere.
This has a serious impact on nature because it prevents the generation of oxygen by plants and causes warming of the atmospheric layer with dire consequences for humans, animals, and plants, due to changes in temperature and atmospheric pressure, winds, humidity, and precipitation.
Rainfall causes rivers to overflow, floods that destroy crops and consequently cause food shortages, and, with it, famine; and wipe out entire villages with the consequent loss of human lives, of animals, and the destruction of ecosystems.
The proportions that the problem has reached are of such magnitude that it is estimated that, if greenhouse gas emissions continue, we are in danger of the Earth exceeding the 2ºC limit of global warming within the next 16 years.
Obviously, you don’t have to be a scientist to imagine the consequences of this overheating of the Earth as a result of biodiversity loss.
That is why we speak of cause and effect since climate change influences the loss of biodiversity and the more damage it causes in nature the more the effect that causes it tends to increase.
Another consequence of the loss of biodiversity is the pollution of natural environments, cities, and fields, which significantly influences the loss of quality of life of human beings.
Because of the loss of biodiversity, many species have had no choice but to adapt to the changes in their environment. Lakes, lagoons, and other aquifer developments have become reservoirs of garbage accumulated over the years.
Meanwhile, due to the proliferation of pollutants by unscrupulous people who also use them as sinks or toilets, many torrential rivers have slowed to the point of becoming mere trickles of water, when they have not dried up.
Moreover, due to the proliferation of pollutants by unscrupulous people who also use them as sinks or toilets, many torrential rivers have slowed to a trickle.
Pollution is also lethal in the oceans, where environmentalists have denounced that plastic waste is killing marine species, as there have been cases of whales stranded on the beach with their stomachs full of such waste.
Pollution is also lethal in the oceans, where environmentalists have denounced that plastic waste is killing marine species.
Also, in these times it seems to have become customary the desolate images of hundreds of dead fish in sea waters, lakes, and rivers as a result of fertilizers and pesticides poured irresponsibly by man in their industrial, agricultural, and livestock activities whose consequence sometimes reaches remote places.
These activities not only pollute water, but also air and soil.
Soils, thus contaminated, are no longer suitable for agriculture or livestock breeding, or even for the simple planting of plants to preserve the ecosystems, which results in temperature increases and further warming of the spaces where man develops his life.
At the same time, the forests maintain the humidity of the soil, so that if they disappear, the land will erode and become an arid zone where there will be no possibility of life for humans and animals.
Deforestation and burning
Humans are to blame for the loss of biodiversity and as a result, vast natural reserves have been lost in the world.
Human beings are to blame for the loss of biodiversity and as a consequence that vast natural reserves have been lost in the world.
Under the slogan of progress, millinery trees have been felled and hundreds of thousands of hectares of wonderful forests have been deforested and replaced by concrete buildings, in an anti-nature process that causes more harm than good, because, step by step, the Earth sees its natural spaces reduced.
Immense forest reserves such as the forests of the Amazon or the Australian forests have been victims of fires of immense proportions that have caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of animals and numerous human lives..
These fires along with indiscriminate and illegal mining have caused the loss of biodiversity, which has resulted in further damage to nature reserves and the indigenous people who inhabit them.
Another consequence of biodiversity loss is the reduction of natural spaces where animal species live, many of which are therefore endangered.
As mentioned above, the use of chemicals threatens the life of species that are threatened by the reduction of their ecosystem.
When species that constitute links in the food chain are eliminated, the ecosystems tend to lose their functions, thus producing a butterfly effect that leads to the extinction of other species.
One of the examples is the extinction of bees, which prevents the pollination of some plant species. These imbalances in the food chains lead to another problem, which is the proliferation of pests that attack large areas of the plant environment.
- Biogeochemical Cycles: What They Are and How They Work [Types and Examples] - 2 June, 2022
- Main Characteristics of Biodiversity - 1 June, 2022
- Types of Biodiversity: [Genetic, Species and Ecosystem] - 1 June, 2022