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Saving Diversity

The world is a theatre in which our lives may play out, and it is our job to set the stage. As with any production of substance its embellishments must serve a purpose beyond aesthetic pleasure.

When applying this to real life we must realize the biodiversity that furnishes our world transcends the virtue of beauty, it is integral to the cycle that allows life as we know it to function – and must be protected if we wish for the production to run smoothly.

Perhaps as some leading roles discard those of less notoriety, if of equal importance, supporting them, humans are often at fault of believing our ‘superiority’ enables us to act as we please, disregarding the effects on ‘lesser’ more vulnerable species. This is a common but fatal mistake as all species are of great importance and the presence of one is essential to keep the others in check.

We are, after all, only one of 1.7 million species in the world. Yet, we are the sole consumers of 86.6 % of the earth’s resources, leaving the other 1.7 million with just 13.4 % of resources. Making evident humans as a whole are the dominant consumers of gluttonous proportions.

As the population grows our demands increase with it, this is no surprise. But as we continue to plow through land in search of resources we may soon find ourselves with nowhere else to go, especially as resources are not distributed equally.

Of the vast landmass covering the earth, 2.3 % is of the most ecological importance. These biodiversity hot-spots may cover only small portions of the earth but they contain 50% of the earth’s plant species and 42% of all mammal, bird, amphibian, and reptilian species. It is obvious, then, just how crucial these areas are to sustain a genetic pool of diverse resources.

Unfortunately, the value of a thing is not enough in itself to protect it, and these hot-spots have been victim to a 70% loss of their native vegetation. With the continuation of habitat loss they are destined to lose many of their native mammal species as well, which make up 52% of the global population. It is estimated that of the mammals endemic to bio-diverse hot-spots, 47% will be lost given to another 1,000 square kilometers of habitat loss.

In more immediate terms, consider that the extinction of one predator results in an excess amount of its former prey, leaving the eco-system unbalanced. Rather than getting trigger happy and ‘keeping numbers down’, we must instead protect natural predators (in other words, all existing species) from endangerment in the first place, not just those of dwindling population.

To stop the rapid depletion of the earth’s biodiversity, we need to start first with our immediate surroundings. By improving the condition in our own regions, we may effectively help the eco-system beyond our borders via the domino effect.

Sustainability can be achieved continually through a variety of acts. In addition to protecting animal species we should preserve local plants as well. Just by growing plants that are native to a region, we  may prevent them from dying out or becoming overtaken by foreign plants, which can act as weeds when planted in a foreign climate.

Given the rarity of life and the gift of consciousness to alter it, I hope we will use these things to create without the destruction of all that makes such a gift possible. Therein, allowing the show to go on for generations that follow, who will otherwise inherit a massacre of  the biodiversity current generations take for granted.

The Little Book of Shocking Eco Facts, Mark Crundwell and Cameron Dunn, Copyright 2011

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