Biodiversity Loss: Biggest Crisis

It’s probably not a question you’ve asked yourself, and that’s probably not your fault. The wonders of nature don’t take up much space in the way of primetime TV or column inches, let alone the fact that that we’re losing them at a rate unprecedented in human history, so it’s not altogether surprising that 10 days of free country-wide activities might just pass you by.

The biodiversity we have on earth right now is essentially the result of billions of years of research and development by the universe’s most prolific innovator, life. We evolved as part of it, so we completely and totally depend on it for survival, but it has met our needs in such an artful and apparently subtle way that we haven’t really noticed the true extent of our dependence. Back in March, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES, kind of like the IPCC for biodiversity) shone a light on this very topic, releasing a major study involving 550 experts from 100 countries. Among its gruesome findings was the news that in every region of the world, biodiversity and nature’s capacity to feed, clothe, house and clean up after us is being reduced, degraded and lost.

A recent study compared articles in the media on biodiversity loss to those on climate change and found that, as under-reported global environmental catastrophes go, biodiversity is faring rather badly. Looking across 25 years of media reports in North America and the UK, coverage of climate change was eight times higher than that of biodiversity, though the two issues are equally dangerous.

So while it might not seem like a big deal when a tiny snail only a handful of people have ever heard of goes the way of the dodo, it’s kind of missing the point. The web of life on which humans depend is made up of interactions between species that very few people have heard of. Many of those species are not cute. But the complexity of the system they’re part of – and our terrifyingly limited scientific understanding of that complexity – is not something it’s safe for humanity to mess with.

Source: The Irish Times

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