Biodiversity simply means all the living beings that are currently found on our planet. There are countless millions of microbial, plant and animal species, and us, humans, being one of its most important components. Each species has from a few dozens to billions of individuals.
When we simply mention the numbers, we may get the impression that everything is in order, but the truth is quite the opposite.
While a species with many individuals can easily regenerate when some of the representatives die, things are much harder for species with few members. When a species goes extinct, it is gone forever.
Unfortunately, there are many species of organisms that are currently under threat, and, while species come and go, this time, their extinction is accelerated by a new factor: us.
We are part of the global biodiversity, but our activities are often a menace. How exactly do we threaten various species? Here are the three main mechanisms:
The living world offers lots of resources: food, raw materials, energy, and, the good thing is that it can regenerate them, with one condition, though: the exploitation rate should not overcome the regeneration potential.
A growing human population, obviously, needs more natural resources. Reckless exploitation does nothing but bringing numerous species on the verge of extinction, destroying ecosystems and cutting off the access to those resources for the future generations. Here is how exactly we do it:
- Deforestation, in order to exploit lumber and expand agricultural areas, is threatening many vegetal species and the animals that use these forests as their habitat.
- Overhunting and overfishing – indiscriminate mass collection of animals, for food or other purposes, without considering their natural reproduction rate.
- Soil erosion due to badly-planned agricultural activities and grazing.
Global transportation means have brought a new threat to biodiversity. Introducing non-native species to various ecosystems greatly disturbs local balances. It causes unfair competition and can lead to extinction.
Agriculture, industry and our daily activities produce lots of waste. Some of these waste products are hardly biodegradable, while others are toxic. Toxines are released into the air, water reserves and soils, killing many indigenous organisms.
Even growth factors, such as fertilizers, can be extremely noxious, disturbing local equilibriums. Algal blooms and eutrophication of many water bodies are some of the best examples of how human activity can affect ecosystems.
We should always keep in mind that, by threatening biodiversity, we threaten our future.