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With 8.7 million known species on Earth,
biodiversity is a significant part of our natural ecology. Each organism plays
a crucial role in creating a hospitable and flourishing planet. The health of
the planet is much greater than just the sum of these individual parts, it
requires all living things to cooperate and support each other in turn
maintaining the homeostasis of the Earth. When individual organisms are excised
from existence, it results in many other organisms being directly affected.
With human life exceeding a sustainable carrying capacity, the other organisms
of the planet are suffering. As resources become more scarce the result will be
a decline in the diversity of plants and other organisms on the planet. The
study into how this in turn will affect the human population is one that is
continuing to grow more extensive day by day. Without a degree of restraint on
how limited the diversity of the planet can become and still be habitable, the
results will produce a massive change in the way of life. Neglecting the
biodiversity of the planet will lead to many adversities than science can
comprehend. With fewer species there will be a greater chance of diseases
devastating our existing resources. In order to ensure a sound future for
humanity and the planet, humans must understand the importance of sustaining a
diverse global biology. Biodiversity is an integral part of sustaining the
environment and a necessary part of maintaining the invulnerability of that
environment.

            From an economic standpoint,
biodiversity is not realistic. Scarcity of resources creates a one sided demand
for the things that humans must have to survive and leaves the other ninety
percent of the diversity to wither away. But as resources are pulled away from
the other aspects of the natural world, the entirety of the planet will feel
the repercussions. Many scientists approach the question of biodiversity as a
means of maintaining the comfortability of humanity, but the reality is that
this attitude fails to take into account the many interconnections between each
organism. Scientists who believe this concept may acknowledge that certain
species could be sacrificially abandoned in order to sustain for the greater
good of humanity. What they’re not realizing is that each organism plays a
specific role in defining the behaviors of an ecosystem. When one thing is
adjusted the entirety of the ecological foundation is at stake. One obvious
example of this is in North Africa. A territory that was once lush with
vegetation, is now a region known for its unyielding heat and perpetual desert.
The Sahara desert was once rich, green, and fertile until humans arrived and
introduced grazing animals, which trampled and ate all of the existing
vegetation. This human intervention permanently changed the territory, the
ecosystem, and the climate of the region (Zhang). This may be an extreme
example but similar consequences should be expected when one fiddles with the
natural order of an ecosystem. The choices humans make do have an effect on the
macro ecosystem. Already we have seen bee populations waning and as a result
our agriculture industry is having to rely on new methods of pollination. The
ripple effect will continue as long as humans continue their destructive
course. The only way out of this ever increasing problem is to become proactive
now. Recognizing that we share this planet with many other organisms, who
require an abundance of resources, is the logical first step. The next step
would be to reduce the amount of resources that humans absorb and make drastic
changes to help reduce that number.

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            Urbanization and agriculture are the
two primary forces contributing to the biodiversity casualty. Many researchers
have recognized possible solutions to this problem that do not require
increases in land use. One method would be to dramatically alter the human
diet. Human being’s reliance on wheat and rice, which constitute a large
percentage of the agricultural resources being spent, should be interrupted.
The best answer scientists can come up with is a shift toward more insect based
foods. These foods are high in protein and vitamins, while requiring far less
resources than the meat and vegetable alternative. Meal worms, crickets, and
over 1900 other species of arthropods are edible to humans. This is the best
alternative for human beings if they want to continue their rate of growth.
With only a finite number of resources available, humans must consider these
more sustainable options. Consuming insects is not the most appetizing thought,
but it may be the quickest way to ensuring the preservation of the earth’s
viability and would require no additional allocation of resources. Scientists
from the University of Nottingham have studied the potentially for entomophagy
amongst the major populations of the world and have found that,
“Insects are an interesting alternative considering the low emission of
greenhouse gases, the small land area needed to produce 1 kg protein, their
efficient feed conversion efficiencies, and their ability to convert organic
side streams in high value protein products” (van Huis). Pursuing this
alternative would still give humans access to the foods that they love without
putting a further strain on the producers or on the finite land resources.
Sustaining global biodiversity will be a challenge no matter what decisions are
made next. The populations of the world will be forced to consider
non-traditional means of nutrition or else they will suffer the inevitable
consequences that go along with a declining ecosystem.

            Humans that are not faced with the
effects of biodiversity loss on a regular basis may not be able to appreciate
this concept as a necessity. Biodiversity awareness should be a primary focus
for scientists who want to slow down the waning of numerous species. The
layperson’s comprehension of biodiversity comes from the discovery channel and
seeing that there are less pandas than ever before. This comprehension is
rudimentary and counterproductive toward making a serious difference. The
common person doesn’t see the detrimental effects of deforestation or the
fading coral reefs. Due to this lack of awareness the common man only worries
about the changing prices of produce at his local grocery store.  He is not faced with these macro issues and
therefore the fact that there is a serious problem doesn’t even cross his mind.
Current conservation pursuits dramatically minimize the scale and significance
of the shrinking biodiversity of the planet. As the population continues to
grow on its exponential path the world will be forced to find new ways to
accommodate for the diversity of nature. Important decisions will need to be
made over the future of our finite land resources. Whether all of our main
nutritional crops will become genetically modified in order to increase yield
without using more space, or whether living developments will become a more
vertical venture in order to reduce land use for urbanization. These are the
decisions that will need to be made in many of the already developed nations.
The developing countries are the ones who will be most altered by the shrinking
biodiversity. In the already developed countries the functional diversity is
already very low. The populations of these industrialized nations are
comfortable with low levels of diversity. They see a few species of bird
chirping, a couple different kinds of flowers, and a handful of fruits and
vegetables at the market and they are happy; considering this all the diversity
a person needs. “Modern people do not recognize the special relationship of indigenous
people to the environment. But for the indigenous people, their view of their
natural surroundings teaches them ecologically sound principles to care for the
environment in a sustainable way. For the indigenous people, destroying the
environment means damaging the lives of human beings” (Beanal). What the
modern world doesn’t realize is that when you remove even one predator species,
by removing its home through deforestation, or eliminating its food supply, you
risk being overrun by insects. The typical person only understands the premise
of biodiversity on a very basic level. For school children, it is the shrinking
rain forests, for fans of the discovery channel it is the loss of certain
mammal species like pandas or elephants. To affirm a united understanding of
what biodiversity really means, there must be major changes in the education
system to show individuals just how important a diverse ecosystem really is.
“Biodiversity is defined as the total variety of life (i.e., all species of
plants, animals, fungi, and microbes) including genetic, population, species
and ecosystem diversity, and the ecological roles and interrelationships (e.g.,
predator–prey) among organisms in biological communities. Biodiversity is a
concept that encapsulates both organisms that can be observed as well as the
intricate web of species interactions and ecosystem processes that we cannot
see” (Hooper et al.). As people become more aware that biodiversity is not just
saving the animals on the endangered species list, they will be more open to
combating shrinking diversity on a unified front. Many biodiversity experts
agree that, “We need to consider impacts upon ecosystems as well as the
social and economic systems to which they are linked – so that the choices society
makes are as well informed as possible” (Haines-Young 3).

The global food supply is another major
issue when it comes to biodiversity because as the population gets larger,
edible resources become narrower. Growers are constantly pondering the
question, why plant ten varieties of tomatoes when the two most popular
varieties produce the highest yield? Why not focus on just those two tomato
varieties? Centralizing resources to these specifically chosen species forces
farmers to abandon the other crop varieties. Centralizing around only a few
different crop varieties means that there is now more vulnerability to disease.
What may seem logical to many scientists is perpetuating the greatest risk.
Reducing the variety of crops leaves growers with no alternative plan of action
if a disease does strike. Recognizing that biodiversity is an important part of
maintaining ecological balance would give scientists and farmers the ability to
continuously provide for the populations of the world, even when a disease affects
a specific plant species. To provide for a growing population the land
allocated to agriculture must increase, which will result in an increase of
water resources used in sustaining that agriculture. This increased water
allocation will directly affect the diversity of wet land areas as irrigation
and drainage, containing many agrochemicals, finds its way into those
reservoirs. “These chemicals also negatively impacted the quality of ground
water and surface water, with consequences far beyond the context of the
agricultural landscape” (Young, et al.).

            With so many environmental issues at
hand, acknowledging the human necessity for biodiversity seems trivial. But it
should still be included in an argument in favor of a diverse world. Diversity
in food and in life is a part of what makes being a human so wonderful. The
diversity of something as exploited as wheat can make all the difference when
it comes to bread, pasta, beer, and many of our staple foods. To strip the
diversity from grains like wheat and rice is to strip the idiosyncrasies of
culture. “In the United States, we now eat about 132 pounds of wheat per person
per year. From breakfast to dessert, wheat is our staple—cereals and toast,
sandwiches and pizzas, pasta and seitan (the meat substitute), plus binders in
salad dressings and sausages, and, of course, the beloved foundation of cookies
and cakes”(Sethi 237). Many experts claim that sustaining an adequate level of
biodiversity would mean absorbing resources from other more significant systems.
These scientists claim that a taxonomic bottleneck will prevent human suffering
by allotting all available resources toward the things that are essential for
survival. But what affect would that have on human culture. The human ability
to combine different unique ingredients and create something greater than the
sum of its parts would be reduced to simple base dishes absent of imagination.
When an audience realizes that humans are only one of 8.7 million species on
Earth, the conclusion will have to be that humans must find a way to meet the
needs of the planet before they can effectively meet their own needs.

 

 

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