We hear a lot about the necessity to preserve biodiversity, but how important is it really to protect that little rodent or amphibian when it lives in the path of PROGRESS? It costs a lot of money to stop construction on a new beach resort or to redirect the route of a highway. Get Real! Do we really need biodiversity?
Recently we have not only been hearing this argument a lot, but we have seen it play out in concrete, political actions. Actions that roll back protections for endangered species and risks entire ecosystems that ensure the continued viability of nature’s biodiversity.
“It Holds the World Steady”
Countering that logic is E.O. Wilson, the American biologist frequently called “the father of biodiversity.” In, The Diversity of Life published in 1992, Wilson describes biodiversity as an equilibrium that “created the world that created us. It holds the world steady.”
In Elizabeth Boakes’ article: Biodiversity isn’t just pretty: it future-proofs our world, published in Aeon, she describes it this way:
“Biodiversity is not just the abundance of life on Earth. Rather, it is what maintains the resilience and flexibility of the environment as a whole, so that life can weather the inevitable ‘storms’.”
Recently we have been going through a lot of storms, literally and figuratively. Our world is facing even more severe ones in the future.
Once Biodiversity Is Lost, It Is Lost Forever!
Once biodiversity is lost, it’s lost forever. Here’s an example: before Columbus there were 24 million bison roaming the grasslands of North America. That astounding population contained a rich biodiversity, but by the late 1880’s their numbers were reduced to less than 100 in the wild. Thru conservation we brought the bison back from the edge of extinction, increasing their numbers into the hundreds of thousands. Sounds like a remarkable story of recovery, but in terms of the genetic biodiversity of bison that loss can never be recovered. (photo – Neal Herbert)
A 2011 report estimated that there are approximately 9 million species on Earth. Scientists have described possibly 1.2 million of that total number. They are not spread evenly around the earth but are more concentrated closer to the equator. Researchers discover new species all the time, especially in the deep ocean as we reported in: Old Fish, New Fish, All Things Fish, plus Whales, Sharks and Dugongs!
Although we are finding new species we are also losing species at an alarming rate. Paleontologists studying our fossil history have recorded five mass extinctions, periods when more than 75% of the earth’s species disappeared. Many of these scientists now believe that we are in the midst of the sixth major mass extinction. “We don’t always know what caused them but most had something to do with rapid climate change”, says Rolf Schmidt a paleontologist from the Melbourne Museum.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean.net
See these Blue Ocean Articles on Endangered Species:
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