Although biodiversity is an important asset, human habits have been responsible for the loss of diversity, whether the effects were intentional or otherwise. Mainly, the transition from the simple era to the current technological stage that we enjoy is the cause for most of the harm done. The industrialization of nations and countries has caused a great deal of harm to the environment, and in turn to biodiversity. The introduction of the industrial age has lead to the destruction of forests and other habitats mainly for resources and materials to improve the human standard of living. Humans, with the purpose of development and progress, have become blinded and negligent of the ecosystems and resources that they are exhausting. Shah  mentions that ““the current extinction rate is now approaching 1,000 times the background rate and may climb to 10,000 times the background rate during the next century, if present trends continue [resulting in] a loss that would easily equal those of past extinctions”… with some 10-30% of the [present] mammal, bird and amphibian species threatened with extinction,” as well as 75% of marine life due to over-exploitation. Furthermore, current emission rates from automobiles, factories, and other industries, have led to the global issue of global warming. The increase of temperature is causing the sea level to rise, worldwide, because the polar ice caps are melting. This means more land is being submerged underwater, and with its increasing rate it is causing to both animal and human habitats to decrease in turn leading to overpopulation in some areas. “Up to 70% of the world’s known species risk extinction if the global temperatures rise by more than 3.5°C” (Shah ), and “overpopulation means that there are more people than there are resources to meet their needs” (Impacts on Biodiversity, n.d.). Other effects of human activities on biodiversity include loss of habitat, erosion, and chemical pollution. In Canada alone, “more than 85% of short-grass prairie, 80% of mixed-grass prairie, 85% of aspen parkland and almost all our native tall-grass prairie. Loss of habitat, combined with reliance on a few genetically-engineered crop strains instead of indigenous crops, have resulted in the endangerment of a disproportionately large number of plant and animal species,” and the removal of natural vegetation have caused the soil to wash into rivers and other water bodies harming “fragile aquatic habitat”(Impacts on Biodiversity, n.d.). Moving on, why and how is biodiversity important to humans? What effects do they have on human way of life? Why should the human population of the world actually invest in saving the biodiversity of nature? The role played by biodiversity is not known to many; however, mankind’s survival depends largely on biodiversity, for that nature depends on biodiversity to replenish and preserve its resources. Will humans be able to survive and avoid extinction without the existence of certain flora and fauna? No, the human race will fail to. Herbivores, mainly cattle including cow and sheep, are the main source of meat products that humans consume in their daily diets. Without the growth of vegetation, these animals will not be able to survive and in turn become extinct; consequently, humans will have to turn to other sources of meat. Other sources might include fish, carnivorous animals, and so on, which also depend on other environmental factors that humans are destroying or using up without replenishment. More importantly than the reason for survival, biodiversity will be considered of greater value if an economic value is placed on it because money is the main concentration of today’s world. “Planting and protecting nearly 12,000 hectares of mangroves in Vietnam costs just over a million dollars but saved annual expenditures on dyke maintenance of well over seven million dollars”(Stephen Leahy qtd. in Shah ). The table below puts a price tag that will show the worth of biodiversity and its importance:
SectorSize of MarketComment
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for National and International Policy Makers 2009 , p.17
PharmaceuticalUS$ 640 bn. (2006)25-50% derived from genetic resources BiotechnologyUS$ 70 bn. (2006) from public companies aloneMany products derived from genetic resources (enzymes, microorganisms) Agricultural seedsUS$ 30 bn. (2006)All derived from genetic resources Personal care, Botanical and food & Beverage industriesUS$ 22 bn. (2006) for herbal supplements US$ 12 bn. (2006) for personal care
US$ 31 bn. (2006) for food productsSome products derived from genetic resources. represents ‘natural’ component of the market. Table: Example of market sectors dependent on genetic resources
If not for biodiversity, then the numbers shown in the table would have not existed. The ‘size of market’ column shows the revenue generated for each of the fields that utilize and profit from biodiversity and the natural resources generated as a result of biodiversity.
Since the benefits reaped from biodiversity are great, and as the previous section mentions, there is more than enough motivation for the human race to begin saving the environment; no matter the purpose behind the act, it will result in the increase in biodiversity once more. Organizations such as GreenPeace and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have taken the initiative in protecting ecosystems and nature’s biodiversity. Campaigns have been launched to “provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations”(UNEP). Also, automobile manufacturers in certain countries, such as the United States and members of the European Union (EU), have been forced to maintain a certain Carbon Monoxide (Co) emission level forcing them to implement hybrid engines which reduce the level of petrol consumption in turn leading to the lesser emissions.
In conclusion, biodiversity is the main purpose behind the survival of many species including the Human Race. However, with time the Human race began to focus on progress and development, forgetting the lower steps they have taken to reach their current state; the environment has been ignored and biodiversity has and continues t be harmed in favor of industries and technological improvement. Although unknown, biodiversity has many effects on humans: provides resources to be used as well as a major economical asset helping most industries. Some people have come to recognize the importance of biodiversity and organizations have been set up to reduce biodiversity loss. Yet, it is still not enough for the pace and resources invested in protection of the environment are not enough. “World leaders faced the economic crisis head on. We need that same level of investment and commitment for the environment.” (Simon Stuart qtd. in Shah ).
1.Shah, A. (2011) “Why Is Biodiversity Important? Who Cares?.” Global Issues.. Retrieved from: . 2.Shah, A. (2011) “Loss of Biodiversity and Extinctions.” Global Issues. Retrieved from: . 3.Shah, A. (2011) “Addressing Biodiversity Loss.” Global Issues. . 4.Impacts on Biodiversity ( n.d.). Quebec Biodiversity. Retrieved from: http://redpath-museum.mcgill.ca/Qbp/3.Conservation/impacts.htm 5.Faith, Daniel P., "Biodiversity", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Retrieved from: . 6.Naeem, S. et. al (1999). Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning: Maintaining Natural Life Support Process. Issues in Ecology. Issue 4. Retrieved from: http://www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/wacademy/acad2000/pdf/issue4.pdf 7.UNEP. “Mission”. Retrieved from: http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=43