Photo by @celinaxchien Today is the International Day of Biodiversity. Biodiversity is the variety of all life on Earth, in all of its countless forms and interactions; from the scale of DNA to entire biomes. It is the product of billions of years of evolution, and is an infinitely complex and beautiful concept, incorporating the information and interactions of all living organisms existing now AND all that have ever lived.
With evolution, comes extinction; a naturally occurring phenomenon essential to natural selection, the fossil record rate of which is referred to as the 'background rate' of extinction. Over the 3.8 billion years that life has existed on Earth, 5 mass extinctions have occurred; these are events of widespread and rapid loss of biodiversity, one of the most famous being the extinction of all non-avian dinosaurs. These mass extinctions were caused by massive volcanic eruptions, ice ages, colliding continents, meteorites- you get the idea: "the sky is falling" type events. It takes millions of years for biodiversity to recover. .
We are now in the midst of Earth's 6th mass extinction, caused by 1 single species: us.
The insatiable appetite of human consumption, aggravated by relentless population growth, is devastating global biodiversity. Human influence has not only increased species extinction rates by 1,000 times the fossil record background rate, we have also reduced the global population of vertebrate species by 58% from 1970 to 2012. This enormous and irreversible loss, if allowed to continue, will ultimately threaten humanity. .
We must act now to protect biodiversity. If not for moral responsibility, then for self preservation; to quote Prof David Macdonald, "without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity." .
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