Earth contains a bountifully complex web of natural resources that include biological and non-biological elements. Those resources are used to make our medicines, foods, textiles and our fuel sources. Coral reefs, for instance, provide coastal communities with protection from incoming storms and floods by reducing wave impacts. This makes coral reefs a natural defense against property damage and fatalities. Another example is curcuma long, which is used to produce turmeric. Curcuma long is a South Asian-native plant that has proven medicinal properties. Turmeric is an antioxidant and is anti-inflammatory, and therefore can be used for conditions such as respiratory infections and liver disease. The survival and availability of such resources is made possible by diverse webs of species, genes and ecosystems.
Why Is Biodiversity Important?
Globally, there are economies that depend on nature’s contributions for continued survival and for economic gain. Ecological communities that are more biologically diverse will have greater variance among its plant and animal species. Plant and animal species can be used for food, medicines and trade. The same is true of microorganisms, which can be used to make biofuels and antibiotics. The continued survival of ecological communities ensures that there are resources for human populations to use for infrastructure development. Nature acts as a public support system to which mankind is embedded.
Humans also depend on biological diversity to sustain climate. This is because, natural and well-maintained ecosystems are conducive to greenhouse gas absorption and storage. Ecological degradation effectively removes (or degrades) natural sinks, like vegetation, microorganisms and respiratory animals, thereby restricting the rate at which anthropogenic greenhouse gases are absorbed from Earth’s atmosphere. Other human activities, such as factory farming and burning fossil fuels for energy produce atmospheric greenhouse gases that contribute to climbing average global temperatures. As the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases escalates, so do the threats against biodiversity.
How Does Climate Change Affect Biodiversity
Global warming and climate change’s consequences include acidifying ocean ecosystems, increased floods and droughts, intensified storms, and more frequent instances of precipitation, to name only a few. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports in its Special Report on Global Warming of 1 degrees Celsius (SR15, Chapter 3) that global warming and climatological changes will result in extinctions and species loss for insects, vertebrates and plant populations. These losses in species are associated with habitat loss, severe weather events and the spread of invasive species.