In 2019, the UN Nature Report showed that one million species are at risk of extinction.
One million. There are eight million species on Earth; that’s one eighth of all life on this planet at risk of being lost forever, with no way of recovering them.
Many people seem to underappreciate the grave situation that we face at this moment - for some people, they’re “just animals”, and for others, it’s “nowhere near as important as other issues that we face”. The truth is, we are completely and utterly dependent on biodiversity and if we allow that to crumble, then society itself will also crumble down.
Many people tend to see insects as pests that get in the way of many of the things that we do, however they play a major role in food production. ¾ of the world’s food crops rely partly on insects to pollinate them. There has been a decrease in food production due to a decline in insects in the wild.
Certain research studies have shown that small-bodied animals (rats, mice, and bats) are more likely to carry pathogens. When there is a flourishing ecosystem, this is kept in check, due to the fact that their predators will eat them. However, as these habitats are destroyed, these predators decline in numbers and some go extinct. This results in an influx of these small-bodied animals. This is particularly of significance now, due to the fact that Covid-19 is a type of ‘Coronavirus’, which is found in these small-bodied animals. If we continue destroying ecosystems, we might start seeing 5 new pandemics each year.
It’s important to remember that it’s not just animals that get threatened with extinction - alarmingly, ¼ of plant life is also threatened with extinction! Plants are extremely important for us as humans, as plants regulate CO2 levels in the atmosphere, as well as water flow. Effects have already been seen in some parts of the UK, where the conversion of wetlands has resulted in major floods.
One of the largest causes of biodiversity loss is unsustainable product production - many companies use products such as soy, coffee, and palm oil from farms that have emerged as a result of damaging rainforests. The UK, for example, buys half a million tonnes of soy each year. This soy is used for the feeding of chickens, but this is produced unsustainably from the Cerrado region, a large tropical ecoregion in Brazil.
We can help to stop this by making sure that products which use some of these major crops have a sustainable logo on it (seen here), and if they don't, simply stop buying it. This may force the company that sells unsustainable products to change their ways in order to avoid bankruptcy and continue to create a profit.
Author: S. Sinha