Biodiversity and the Effects Caused by Mankind
Biodiversity is an important factor in sustaining and maintaining human life. One definition found from Human Health of the Great Lakes expresses biodiversity as, "The variety of life and its processes, including the variety of living organisms, the genetic differences among them, the communities and ecosystems in which they occur, and the ecological and evolutionary processes that keep them functioning, yet ever changing and adapting". Biodiversity is defined or explained in many different ways, but the connection to plant, animal, and human life remains the same. Human beings often take many things for granted, unfortunately without protecting what nature has to offer, humans may have taken their own well-being for granted.
The planet Earth is the only planet known to man that has all of the features necessary to sustain life. The natural resources that are available to mankind include, the air we breathe, the water we drink and use for multiple purposes, and the fertile soil needed to produce food and crops. North America is home to a small percentage, about ten to fifteen percent of the total known species in the world. The actions and advances in the desires and greed of many, along with the technology and industry improvements have imposed some difficult challenges for many species.
The largest threat to biodiversity is the accelerated pace of the elimination or extinction rate of our planet's species. Extinction of species is not something new, nothing lives forever. What is new and alarming is the rate at which the extinctions are occurring. Mankind's behavior, attitudes, and actions have caused the extinction rate to rapidly increase. The current estimates of eliminations are close to twenty-seven species every single day.
One could argue that mankind cannot possibly be blamed for such loses, after all species will eventually die and evolve in a natural progression. Some species will die out and evolve in their own time period and other species will succumb to natural disasters. But far more species will be lost forever due to humankind's behaviors and lack of concern. It is much easier to think that people just do not know or understand how they impact and threaten the sustainment of the world's many different biomes, than to think they just do not care.
A species habitat and how well that habitat remains undisturbed can be an important factor to the species survival rate. Man's desire to do and go everywhere and have more of everything is threatening many species habitats. Human caused disturbances impacting many ecological communities have been due to technological advancements and population increases. Demands placed upon many species habitats have been a result of the human population increase. Statistics have shown that the human population is over 6.5 billion and growing at a rate of 1.14 percent per year.
The earth's nature resources are supporting more people and for a much longer time period. People seem to never quite be satisfied with the material things that they have. It appears that they have an insatiable appetite for trying to acquire more and more possessions even if it means destroying other species. As the population increases the demands imposed upon the resources such as, water, land, and timber also increase. For example as the housing communities expand many species are struggling to compete for their living habitats. Then we wonder why we are seeing or hearing more about wild animals such as, coyotes and bears showing up in neighborhoods and towns. I believe that this is occurring more frequently due to the expansion of human population and human greed.
We could all learn about sharing food sources, looking out for one another, and protecting our environments if we would just apply a small part of what we learn from other people and their culture. As the population climbs there are debates about whether we will reach the earth's carry capacity and whether food shortages will become a common occurrence. The world is already faced with millions of undernourished people, famines, and malnourishment at our present capacity. If we continue to move closer to the planets carry capacity food shortages will become more prevalent.
Technology advances in biological pest control has resulted in more chemicals being applied to food crops to increase the yields. The initial thought for the trade-off for the larger yield of food is the increase in ecological damage. But the affects of the usage of the chemical pesticides reaches beyond the soil contamination. There are many other issues as well; human exposure to the toxins, unintended plants and animal life that become affected by the overspray, and the issue of pests that become immune to the type and level of chemicals over times. Harvesting enough food to support a growing population does not come without consequences.
The air we breathe is no longer a pure source of oxygen. Humans have contaminated this natural resource to the point of it becoming hazardous to the health of many humans. Now that our oxygen has become polluted with manmade toxins it medically affects many humans who are suffering with allergies and breathing difficulties. The legal policies and regulations alone cannot resolve these concerns. Humans need to re-examine their moral and ethical beliefs and then demonstrate behaviors that will make a positive turn toward prolonging the biodiversity on earth.
Being able to sustain the biodiversity on earth should be high on everyone's priority list. However the continued actions of the majority of humans support the facts that this is unfortunately not the current situation. Yes, there are many different reasons why we as a nation cannot unite and take responsibility for contributing to the destruction of nonrenewable resources. Failing to take responsibility does not change the fact that we need the resources that our planet provides in order to sustain our lives and the future lives of generations to come. Please stop, think, and react the next time you are sitting in the drive-thru of a restaurant chain. Do you really need to sit in the car with the motor idling while the toxins fill the precious air? Maybe humans don't care, don't understand, or don't know how to help reduce the negative effects we are causing on the ecological well being of the planet. But now is the time to care, learn, react and make changes. Today many species are dying because of our negligence and greed. I for one do not believe that humans really want to see our own species become extinct. That may be the direction that we are headed if we do not collectively make changes.