Biodiversity is the diversity of life. If we are more diversified we are more absorbed in work and reduces risks, similarly diversity in nature protects it. Today there are around 8 to 20 million or more kinds of organisms in which the genetic material is in the form of chromosomes that are contained within distinct cells and called Eukaryotes. Of them, only few million have been recognised and named. There are, in addition, much larger number of unknown prokaryotes, consisting of archaea and bacteria. Biodiversity has several dimensions, these include different variety of living organisms, the genes they contain and the ecosystems in which they live and there is multiple kind of interactions among members i.e. human, plants, animals etc.
The biosphere is a web of interconnected self-regenerative entities called Ecosystems. Moreover, they differ among one another both in speed and spread like lakes, forest, deserts, agricultural landscapes etc. In each ecosystem organisms play different roles like they pollinate, decompose, filter, transport, redistribute, scavenge, and fix gases. Nearly all organisms that help to produce those works are hidden from us, which is why they are almost always missing from popular discourses on the environment. But their activities enable ecosystems to maintain a genetic library, preserve and regenerate soil, fix nitrogen and carbon, recycle nutrients, control floods, mitigate droughts, filter pollutants, assimilate waste, pollinate crops, operate the hydrological cycle and maintain the gaseous composition of the atmosphere. They thus play a role of regulator.
The processes that give rise to them are in large measure complementary to one another: degrading one severely can be expected to threaten the others. Biodiversity, by which is meant the diversity of life, is a characteristic of ecosystems. Biodiversity contributes positively to ecosystem productivity. So it can be called natural capital. Biological diversity resources are the pillars upon which we build civilizations. For example, fish provide 20 per cent of animal protein to about 3 billion people, over 80 per cent of the human diet is provided by plants, as many as 80 per cent of people living in rural areas in developing countries rely on traditional plant‐based medicines for basic healthcare and much more.
At the end of the Second World War, with absolute poverty endemic in much of Africa, Asia and Latin America, and with Europe in need of reconstruction, it made sense to focus on the accumulation of produced capital (roads, buildings, ports, machines) and human capital (health and education). Unfortunately, the resulting models of growth and development so directed the way that we have over time come to imagine that we can bypass Nature in our economic lives. Today average person enjoys a far higher income, and lives significantly longer than he or she did 70 years ago. Since 1950 the global expectancy of life at birth has risen from 46 years to 73 years, the world economy’s GDP has grown more than 15-fold to over 130 trillion international dollars a year, global per capita income has increased more than 5-fold to over 17,000 international dollars per year, and there are 5.3 billion more people today to enjoy that increase (world population today is 7.8 billion). It would seem we are living in the very best of times.
But Nature is an asset. It is our home, and it provides us with a multitude of services we take for granted. So, even while we have enjoyed the fruits of economic growth, the demands we have made of Nature’s goods and services have for some decades exceeded her ability to supply them on a sustainable basis. Because the difference between demand and sustainable supply is met by a diminution of Nature, the gap has been increasing, threatening our descendants’ lives. It would seem we are also living at the very worst of times.
Loss of biodiversity threatens all, including our health. It has been proven that biodiversity loss could expand zoonoses – diseases transmitted from animals to humans- while, on the other hand, if we keep biodiversity intact, it offers excellent tools to fight against pandemics like those caused by coronavirus.
Due to our rising demand we are utilising biosphere to such an extent that earth is becoming intolerable for them. Current extinction rates of species in various orders are estimated to have risen to 100-1,000 times the average extinction rate over the past tens of millions of years (the ‘background rate’) of 0.1-1 per million species per year and are continuing to rise. In absolute terms, 1,000 species are becoming extinct every year if 10 million is taken to be the number of species. At the global level, climate change and COVID-19 are striking expressions of Nature’s loss of resilience (ecosystem / nature loses its ability to recover from a disturbance).
More than 3 million square kilometers of the Asian elephant’s historic habitat range has been lost in just three centuries, a new report from an international scientific team led by a University of California San Diego researcher reveals. This dramatic decline may underlie present-day conflicts between elephants and people along with climate change.
Throughout the world we are witnessing not just a decline in the numbers of individual insects, but also a collapse of insect diversity. Major causes of this worrying trend are land-use intensification in the form of greater utilization for agriculture and buildings’ development as well as climate change and the spread of invasive animal species as a result of human trade.
Some 75 percent of food crops have become extinct since 1900, largely because of an overreliance on a handful of high-producing crop varieties. This lack of biodiversity among crops threatens food security, because varieties may be vulnerable to disease and pests, invasive species and climate change. Similar trends occur in livestock production, where high-producing breeds of cattle and poultry are favoured over lower-producing, wilder breeds. Mainstream and traditional medicines can be derived from the chemicals in rare plants and animals, and thus lost species represent lost opportunities to treat and cure.
Tropical rainforests are of particular interest to the economics of biodiversity, as they contain an estimated 50% of Earth’s species and some 40% of the terrestrial pool of carbon in just over 10% of Earth’s terrestrial vegetation cover. Logging and the conversion of rainforests to pasture and croplands have altered approximately 50% of the biome (Cuff and Goudie, 2009).
In the face of global warming and other environmental changes, corals in the Atlantic Ocean have declined precipitously in recent years, while corals in the Pacific and Indian Ocean are faring better. By describing several species of symbiotic algae that these corals need to grow, an international team led by Penn State has found that these mutualistic relationships from the Indo-Pacific may be more flexible and ultimately resilient to higher ocean temperatures than those in the Atlantic.
One prominent reason for the increase in the gap between demand and sustainable supply is an absence of using control on Nature’s fundamental services. The high seas, for example, are used by us to enjoy cruises, transport goods, and harvest for fish…
For Full Article: