The variety of species on Earth is called biodiversity which includes plants, animals, microorganisms but also different ecosystems such as deserts, rainforests, reefs… Even small children know that each organism has its own and unique role in the nature. So if biodiversity boosts productivity of ecosystems and biodiversity loss is increasing, we have a huge problem. The Living Planet Index shows that there was a biodiversity decline of 52% between the years 1970 and 2010.
It is estimated that up to 30% of all species of the world will be extinct by 2050, meaning 140 000 species are lost each year. Such a big number is not easy to imagine. In other words, 1 out of 8 birds, 1 out of 4 mammals, 1 out of 4 conifers or 6 out of marine turtles are endangered and at threat of extinction nowadays.
Such a big loss already has and will have impacts on the nature and human lives. Unfortunately, most people can see only economic costs. If nature can´t take care of itself alone, we have to pay for procedures such as irrigation or pollination. According to study of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (an organization trying to calculate costs of conserving ecosystems and biodiversity), only deforestation costs annually from 2 to 5 trillion dollars worldwide.
Some countries have already realized the importance of „green“ economies – we can say that Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway) are leaders in this area. However, for emerging economies is the growth of GDP much more important than environment issues. 5 major emerging economies – China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa – use 3 quarters of the biocapacity of Earth. The problem is that we can´t precisely express or calculate the value of biodiversity. Ordinary people and, sadly, many politicians tend to undervaluate it.
Another problem is food security and its reducing. As more and more species are becoming endangered, their population is narrower and narrower. Then they are more vulnerable to diseases, climate change or drought (because species need large variety of genes to survive successfully). This tendency can be seen not only in wild nature, but also on farms (cattle is typical example). And diseases of cattle are threatening people and their health.
Numerous studies have shown that the loss of biodiversity causes rapid climate change and vice versa. Natural disasters such as droughts or floods occur more often than in the past. Stable weather without extremes is essential for agriculture. If agriculture or ocean ecosystems collapse, many people, mainly from poor countries, might loose their only source of income. Agriculture is the source of income also for countries. 40% of world trade is based on biological products.
We might not see it now, but the loss of species touches everyone. Biodiversity is the basis of our existence and we should quickly start to fix what we did wrong. Rapid changes are required.