Imagine you are back in your childhood and try reminiscing those innocent, idyllic memories of wandering in nature, gazing at the exquisite beauty of diverse birds, and listening to their chirps, tweets, and melodious songs. When you come out of that nostalgia, you can’t help but feel slightly wistful of those times as you now notice the scarcity of those marvels of nature.
According to a report of the intergovernmental panel of scientists (IPBES), over a million species of plants and animals are threatened to become extinct at an unprecedented rate in the history of mankind. Even in a developing country like Nepal, the loss of biodiversity is very critical and apparent in a tangible way as verified by the observation of birds before. But the awareness of these catastrophic losses is still very low in the general masses. There is compelling evidence to corroborate the intensity and urgency of this global threat. Its disastrous impact, on not only the endangered species but also on us human beings, is arguably equivalent to the threat of climate change. Anne Larigauderie, IBPES executive secretary, also stated that biodiversity loss should be at the top of the global agenda alongside climate change.
Along with the rapid population growth, industrialization, and urbanization, the haphazard exploitation of natural resources to meet the growing demands has also increased exponentially. Unlike the past periods in history, the unbounded extensions of humans, in their insatiable explorations and exploitation have led to this global cataclysm in this modern era. The most pressing causes of loss of biodiversity include agricultural activities, pollution, loss of natural habitat of flora and fauna (deforestation), climate change, and overexploitation of a particular species. According to a report mentioned by Helen Briggs, a BBC environment correspondent, the global rate of decline of vertebrates is about 68 % on average from 1970 to 2016. And human beings are mostly responsible for this drastic biodiversity loss. According to the estimation of researchers, the rate of extinction of biodiversity is more than “100 times the background extinction rate” making humans the most dangerous species on the planet (John P. Rafferty, Britannica).
The main reason behind the obliviousness of people towards this serious problem seems to be the lack of apparent evidence of loss of biodiversity. Any average person is much likely to notice the effects of climate change like natural disasters, droughts and rise of sea level than the loss of some species of bird found in tropical forests thousands of miles away from his house. But with appropriate research, we can calculate the level of destruction of biodiversity. Regardless of people’s general awareness and attitude, the loss of biodiversity has posed serious threats to human beings. From the reduction of food variety and new drug discovery to ecological imbalances, the impact of biodiversity loss is multifaceted. The adaptability of remaining species like crops will significantly decrease resulting in the low crop yield which threatens the food security of the world. Consequently, loss of crop diversity and low-quality yield will be detrimental to our health. Our global economies and production capability are directly dependent on diverse flora and fauna and balanced ecosystems which will collapse in their absence. Even infectious diseases like COVID-19 are thought to be “related to the destruction of forests and wilderness” ( Misha Kitchell). Thus, our economy, health and overall wellbeing all are gravely affected by the loss of biodiversity and collective measures are urgently required to prevent this further havoc.
First, all the nations of the world should unite to implement policies that are biodiversity-friendly and environment friendly with continuous monitoring of the number of species. All the industries which are harming biodiversity should be immediately stopped and more investments should be done in the research of methods to prevent this loss. Conservation areas, national parks and wildlife reserves should be constructed to protect the natural habitat of animals and plants and prevent the further encroaching of humans. The appropriate measure should be taken to control pollution and the effects of climate change should be reduced. Emphasis should be given to sustainable development and overconsumption should be reduced. The involvement of youth in these activities can play a vital role in expediting the process. Proactive efforts from individual, community, national and global levels and proper implementation of eco-friendly policies can only change the direction of biodiversity.
Thus, the issue of biodiversity is a minor problem to be ignored or shunned for later. It is as urgent as it can be and we need all the human creativity, genius and proactive collective actions to prevent this.
Author: Amrit Shakya is an aspiring blogger and passed his +2 from Tilotama Campus, Rupandehi.