A growing body of evidence suggests that humanity must slow the extinction rate of species or risk them becoming extinct. The stakes have never been higher, according to experts, with more than 1 million species at risk of extinction and demonstrable connections between human health and the health of the world.
But why is biodiversity so crucial to humankind?
Certainly, there is some importance of biodiversity to humans-biodiversity is crucial for your health, safety, and perhaps your business or way of life. The diversity of species, between species, and within ecosystems, known as biodiversity, is, however, disappearing more quickly than at any other period in human history.
Even though the 7.6 billion people on the planet only make up 0.01% of all living things in terms of weight, loss of 83% of all wild mammals and 50% of all vegetation have disappeared due to human activity.
(Ecosystem collapse and biodiversity loss are two of the top five dangers listed in the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Risks Report.) Ecosystems must be working properly for communities to be healthy. They offer secure access to food, clean air, freshwater, and medications. Additionally, they reduce sickness and maintain the environment.
However, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the World Health Organization jointly produced a state-of-knowledge study that asserts that biodiversity loss is occurring at previously unheard-of rates and is having an effect on human health globally.
People rely on biodiversity in their daily lives, sometimes in ways that aren’t obvious or appreciated. Human health ultimately depends on ecosystem services and goods, which are necessary for good human health and prosperous livelihoods (such as the availability of fresh water, food, and fuel sources).
If ecological services are no longer sufficient to meet social requirements, the loss of biodiversity may have serious direct effects on human health. Changes in ecosystem services have an indirect impact on local migration, livelihoods, income, and, on rare occasions, even political strife.
Additionally, the biological diversity of microbes, plants, and animals has enormous advantages for the fields of biology, medicine, and pharmacology. A better understanding of the earth’s biodiversity leads to important medical and pharmaceutical breakthroughs. The search for potential cures for various diseases and health issues may be hampered by biodiversity loss.
8 Importance of Biodiversity to Humans
The following are the importance of biodiversity to humans
1. Wildlife helps maintain healthy ecosystems on which we depend
Paul R. and Anne Ehrlich, who studied conservation, proposed in the 1980s that species are to ecosystems what rivets are to an airplane wing. Even if losing one might not be catastrophic, each loss increases the possibility of a serious issue.
Humans depend on ecosystem services like fresh water, pollination, soil fertility and stability, food, and medicine, whether they live in a village in the Amazon or a large city like Beijing.
Given the demands of a constantly expanding human population, ecosystems that have suffered from the loss of biodiversity are less likely to provide those services.
The biggest desert lake in the world, Lake Turkana in Kenya, provides food and income for around 300,000 people as well as a habitat for a variety of species, including birds, Nile crocodiles, and hippos.
The lake is under a lot of stress from overfishing, cyclical droughts, shifting rainfall patterns, and water diverted by upstream activities. These changes are causing biodiversity to disappear, fisheries yield to diminish, and the lake’s capacity to support humanity to decline.
This might be the outcome for numerous additional ecosystems if conservation measures are not implemented.
2. Biodiversity is crucial to the fight against climate change
A team of researchers led by Bronson Griscom, who studies natural climate solutions at Conservation International, found that nature can provide at least 30% of the emissions reductions required by 2030 to avert a global climate catastrophe in a seminal study released in 2017.
A critical component of accomplishing these carbon reductions is biodiversity preservation. Since 11 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions produced by people worldwide are attributable to the degradation of forest ecosystems, preserving forests would prevent the atmospheric release of these gases.
Protecting plants and trees is much more important since they store carbon in their tissues. Some ecosystems, like mangroves, are very adept at sequestering carbon and preventing it from entering the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change.
Forests and wetlands act as critical buffers against the catastrophic storms and flooding brought on by climate change. Because of the complexity of these ecosystems, they work better and are more resistant to the effects of climate change when all the components of the ecosystem are present, which implies that biodiversity is unharmed.
“High-biodiversity forests and other ecosystems can be conserved and restored for a relatively small investment as a powerful means to rein in climate change while also helping communities cope with associated storms, flooding, and other impacts,” said Langrand.
3. Biodiversity boosts economic growth
80 percent of the needs of the poor and at least 40 percent of the global economy are met by biological resources. If biodiversity loss keeps going at the current rate, the food, commercial forestry, and ecotourism businesses might lose a combined US$ 338 billion annually.
The pollination of over 75% of the world’s food crops is dependent on animals and insects like bees, yet many of these pollinator populations are in decline, which might endanger more than 235 billion dollars worth of agricultural products.
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative believes that by 2050, there will be $2–6 trillion worth of sustainable business opportunities worldwide. For their daily survival, millions of people also rely on nature and other creatures.
This is especially true for underdeveloped people who frequently look to ecosystems with high levels of biodiversity for their sources of food, fuel, medicines, and other natural goods for their own use and as sources of income. For many people, nature-related tourism is a substantial source of income.
4. Culture and identity are inextricably linked to biodiversity
Religious, cultural, and national identities frequently depend on specific species. Nature is a part of all major religions, and 231 species are officially employed in 142 nations as national symbols.
Unfortunately, more than one-third of those species are threatened, but because they serve as national emblems, the bald eagle and American bison are instances of conservation triumphs.
Visitors can also find recreation and educational opportunities in ecosystems like parks and other protected areas, and biodiversity frequently serves as a source of inspiration for designers and artists.
5. Biodiversity guarantees food and health security
Global nutrition and food security are supported by biodiversity. A great variety of fruits, vegetables, and animal products that are necessary for a healthy, balanced diet are produced by millions of species, but they are increasingly in danger.
Every nation has locally grown foods like wild greens and grains that have adapted to the climate and are thus resistant to pests and adverse weather. The local inhabitants used to receive critical micronutrients from this product.
Unfortunately, poor-quality diets have been caused by diet simplification, processed meals, and the limited availability of food. Thus, one-third of the world’s population experiences vitamin deficiencies.
Nearly 60% of all plant-based calories consumed by people come from three crops: wheat, corn, and rice. As a result, our food supply systems and plates are less resilient. For instance, only a few dozen kinds of rice are now grown in Asia, down from tens of thousands. In Thailand, only two varieties of rice are grown on 50% of the country’s rice-growing territory.
Once upon a time, people realized how important species protection was to the sustainability of human communities and ecosystems. In order to prevent diseases linked to diet and lessen the environmental impact of feeding ourselves, we must make sure that this information is kept in our contemporary agricultural and food systems.
6. Biodiversity aids in illness prevention
Human health has been shown to grow as biodiversity levels rise. First, the use of plants in medicine is crucial. For instance, 25% of the pharmaceuticals used in modern medicine are derived from plants found in rainforests, and 70% of cancer medications are either natural or artificial substances that were inspired by nature.
This implies that we lose out on a potential new treatment every time a species goes extinct. Second, decreased rates of diseases like Lyme disease and malaria have been associated with biodiversity because of protected natural areas.
60% of infectious diseases come from animals, and 70% of newly emerging infectious diseases come from wildlife, even if the actual source of the virus that causes COVID-19 is still unknown.
We decrease the size and number of ecosystems as a result of human activities encroaching on the natural world through deforestation and urbanization. Animals now coexist more closely with people and other animals, which is conducive to the spread of zoonotic illnesses.
7. Businesses gain from biodiversity
Because of the rising number of natural disasters, many businesses are in danger. While natural wonders like coral reefs are crucial to both food production and tourism, the global market for medications made from materials of natural origin is projected to be worth $75 billion annually.
By preserving biodiversity, there is a significant opportunity for the economy to expand and become more robust. At least $9 in economic gains result from every $1 invested in the restoration of nature.
By 2030, new business opportunities related to agriculture and food production might be worth $4.5 trillion annually, in addition to averting social and environmental problems worth trillions of dollars.
8. Biodiversity keeps us safe
The earth’s biodiversity makes it habitable. Biodiverse ecosystems offer environmentally friendly remedies that protect us from calamities like floods and storms, filter our water, and replenish our soil.
The loss of more than 35% of the world’s mangroves due to human activity has increased the risk of flooding and sea level rise for both people and their dwellings. A loss of today’s mangroves would result in an annual rise in flooding of 18 million people (an increase of 39%) and an increase in property damage of 16% ($82 billion).
In order to combat climate change, natural habitats must be preserved and restored. 37% of the cost-effective CO2 mitigation required by 2030 to keep global warming under 2°C might be met by natural alternatives.
The basis for prosperity, human health, and economic growth is provided by natural ecosystems. Our species’ future is intricately linked to the future of our environment.
Recognizing the advantages of biodiversity is the first step in ensuring that we take care of it, as ecosystems are becoming more and more endangered due to human activity. We are aware that biodiversity is important. Now, as a society, we ought to safeguard it in order to safeguard our own long-term interests.
For its intrinsic worth and advantages to human health and welfare, biodiversity should be preserved. Greater awareness of these health advantages might increase public support for conservation.
We keep learning more about how much humans depend on the natural environment and biodiversity for their well-being as land-use change and other anthropogenic disruptions to ecosystems damage biodiversity.
Fortunately, the National Park Service is in a good position to increase awareness of the values and advantages of biodiversity in order to safeguard and preserve our two most important resources: people and nature.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.