As we look at the key goals of sustainability, one that stands out is the protection of biodiversity, a vital element to the well-being of our planet and to the quality of human life.
Think of biodiversity as the variability of all living things within a specific area or the totality of earth. This diverse expanse of organisms provides a whole slew of benefits to the natural world.
Some of the benefits include the various ecosystem services that are all made possible by myriad combinations of organisms around the world. An ecosystem service is anything that human beings can receive from their surrounding world, such as nutrient cycling or the provision of food and water.
Not only is nature and wildlife beautiful, but it is crucial to human survival, because one of the most important -- if not the most important -- ecosystem services takes place in forests around the world. And it's so basic; trees absorb our carbon dioxide and provide us with oxygen. So, that said, without plants and trees, where would we get our oxygen? Ponder that with a deep breath.
The World Wildlife Fund values the total monetary benefits of all environmental goods and services to be about $33 trillion. What's more, and perhaps dangerously so, two-thirds of environmental services around the world are threatened.
The most common threats to biodiversity include habitat loss/degradation, over exploitation, spread of invasive species or diseases, climate change, and pollution. If you didn't already know it or guess it, all of these threats are pretty much preventable, but, notably, all can be halted or, hopefully, reversed.
Less pollution of our environment would be a superb, starting with proper and safe disposal of old or broken items. More so, we can prevent over exploitation and land degradation by taking only what we need.
We can also begin to replace what we take, such as replanting trees where many have already been cut down. Yes, this is already being done, but on a less-than-grand scale, so it will be difficult to reverse all of the damage already done.
Preserving biodiversity not only provides our surrounding organisms with protection and the resources needed to survive, but also sustains our expectations of a high quality of life in the future.