One of the most alarming problems we face as we continue to deal with the climate crisis is the loss of biodiversity. The most recent WWF’s Living Planet Report shows that wildlife numbers have decreased globally by an average of 69% since 1970.
To tackle this, In December 2022, a total of 196 countries pledged to stop and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030 and live in harmony with nature by 2050. However, this requires careful consideration as the loss of biodiversity and climate change are interconnected and possibly create a vicious cycle where one problem aggravates the other.
The planet is facing two interrelated crises: climate change and biodiversity loss.
Climate change can affect biodiversity by altering the availability of resources, such as water and food, and by changing the timing of natural events such as flowering and migration. These changes can lead to the decline or extinction of species and further loss of biodiversity.
The loss of biodiversity, on the other hand, can lead to reduced carbon absorption, which in turn can cause an increase in greenhouse gases and further aggravates climate change.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth, including the diversity of species, ecosystems, and genetic variation within species. Biodiversity loss occurs when there is a significant reduction in the variety and abundance of species in a particular ecosystem.
This can happen due to several factors, including but not limited to:
- Habitat destruction
- Overexploitation of natural resources
- Invasive species
- Agricultural expansion
- Climate change
Consequences of biodiversity loss
Disruption in ecosystem functioning
Biodiversity loss reduces the ability of ecosystems to provide the services that support human well-being, such as clean air, water, and food. For example, mangrove forests and coral reefs function as a natural shield against erosion caused by the ascending sea levels.
The ability of ecosystems to provide services that support human well-being, such as clean air, water, and food, is decreased by biodiversity loss. Mangrove forests and coral reefs, for instance, serve as natural barriers against erosion caused by rising sea levels.
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Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change
Reduction in soil quality
Biodiversity loss can lead to a decrease in the quality and fertility of soil, which can have negative impacts on agriculture and food production. Moreover, having a variety of crops can help to increase productivity by selecting crops with different characteristics that can resist diseases, survive in different climates, grow in poor soil, or ensure stable production.
Increased disease transmission
Biodiversity loss can lead to changes in the transmission of diseases between species. For example, when bat populations decline, it can lead to an increase in the transmission of diseases like Ebola from bats to humans. In fact, studies reveal that the greater the diversity of animal species, the less chance Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases will spread to people.
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Biodiversity loss can have negative economic impacts, such as loss of income from ecotourism, and increased costs associated with ecosystem restoration and management.