Earlier this week a UN report was published describing a biodiversity crisis. But what does this mean, and how does it impact the world we live in?
Ella Cohen, a Zoology student at Capel Manor College, helps explain what the new findings mean for the future of the planet, and what needs to be done to prevent important species from extinction.
The report concluded that 1 million species are endangered, highlighting that frogs and other amphibians, corals and marine mammals, and mammals that we often eat, could all be extinct in just a few decades.
Hundreds of species have been extinct since the 20th century: Infographic created by Luca Staccini
Ella believes primates in Madagascar are a big concern. “The current ecosystem out there is tremendously vulnerable and unbalanced. The amount of tourists travelling to the remote island create an additional strain to the success of populations out there.”
She also says coral reefs and fish populations are also forgotten about, but admits pollinators will have the largest effect on the planet. “They are at the core of reproductive success in the natural world, having a direct impact on society too”.
These endangered species are already having an impact on the environment, but if nothing changes, they will become even more serious. The food chain is a part of our ecosystem that works in balance with thousands of species, but if key plant and animal life become extinct, it will alter the process in detrimental ways.
Take the lynx and the snowshoe hare in Canada. The lynx are predators to the hare, hunting them as a main food source. At the same time, the hare’s peak population can be too much for plant species to cope. The hare’s then become weak as they have lost vegetation to graze on, making it easier for the lynx to catch them.
But the hare’s population decreases so much that there’s no longer enough for the lynx to hunt, whose population also begins to decrease. This then gives the hare’s a chance to breed and increase their population again.
If one of these species were to become endangered or extinct, the delicate system they live in would shift, causing the surrounding environment to change.
“This can have negative effects on our diets, our health with an increased risk of disease, and the whole ecosystem will collapse,” Ella says, saying that it’s important to have a balance between humans and the other species we share the Earth with. “By allowing the ecosystem to sustain itself we can all thrive in existence together”.
Deforestation is leaving thousands of animals without a home, and reducing biodiversity in the surrounding area: image courtesy of Pexels
We are always told to make small environmentally friendly changes to our lifestyle, but we never know how much our contribution is having.
“We must be mindful of our choices, habits and behaviours. Humans are selfish and it is about time we realise that we are not just living our lives for us now”. Ella believes that our actions don’t go unnoticed, and if we are all more mindful of our diets, we can slowly reverse our actions.
“Things like single-use plastic in the form of straws or containers need to go. And sourcing food as locally as possible and introducing more vegetables into your lifestyle can make all the difference.”
If everyone were to follow this lifestyle, positive effects would begin to occur, but it really does take everyone. Countries around the world need to support each other to replace old, harmful habits, with new methods and ideas, that will bring the planet back to a healthy state.
Featured image courtesy of Pexels