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Essay

Juliet Osuagwu

Year-Prize: The 13th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Time for Nature

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REVERSING THE LOSS OF OUR BIODIVERSITY

Juliet Osuagwu (Nigeria)
Honorable Mentions

 

 

I remember years back in elementary school, my English teacher would teach us some idioms and have us memorize them one after the other with their various meanings. Back then, I never fully understood the meaning of the idiom “Live and let live”. I came to a better understanding of the idiomatic expression in my latter years as a senior secondary school student and I understood that it meant you could live a comfortable life and equally maintain a peaceful coexistence with others.
Why should we reverse biodiversity loss? All human activity ultimately rely on the services provided by nature such as food production, medicine production, air filtration, water purification among others at no cost. Apart from the countless purposes biodiversity serves, we should protect and care about our biodiversity for the sole reason that we need to peacefully coexist with the diverse plant and animal species we find around us. We need to let them live even as we do. Imagine that you live in a beautiful house where you were born and raised; you mend the broken  fences and repaint fading wall surfaces year after year to ensure its beauty and one morning, you wake up to see your fence razed to the ground with your house and your life being the next target. How would that make you feel? Now that’s how life is for biological diversity on earth which are either being unexpectedly killed or displaced from their habitat time after time.
There are many causes of biodiversity loss. According to Dr Wouter Peeters of the University of Birmingham, there are five direct drivers of biodiversity loss which include changes in land and sea use for example when forest area is converted in agricultural or built up land, direct exploitation of organisms (industrial fishing, hunting and poaching), pollution of the air and sea, increased trade and human mobility all which cause habitat destruction of some plant and animal species. These drivers are caused by one underlying factor which is human population and consumption of natural resources. Human population and consumption growth has increased impact on natural environment resulting in a global degradation of the quality of the natural environment we live in. “Nature makes human development possible but our relentless demand for the earth’s resources is accelerating extinction rates and devastating the world’s ecosystem”, said Joyce Msuya, acting head of UN Environment in an article on biodiversity loss. The consequences of human activity on nature are even made worse by climate change which is in turn exacerbated by damage to ecosystems, such as loss of forests that convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.
This intense global degradation of the quality of our natural environment if not controlled lowers the ecosystem’s productivity and services which include soil maintenance, food supply and water purification. A fall in the microbes present in the soil limits the amount of recycled nutrients in the soil and the number of holes for rainwater to flow through, stunting crop growth and hindering humanity’s ability to feed itself.  As biodiversity is lost, the ecosystem over time loses its ability to recover from a disturbance, can become destabilized and eventually collapse i.e. ceasing to be what it was e.g. a temperate swamp. Also, loss of biodiversity threatens global food security and the development of new pharmaceuticals to deal with future diseases. Traditional medicines can often be derived from chemicals in rare plants and animals and thus lost species represent lost opportunities to treat and cure. Furthermore, biodiversity loss increases the number of disease carrying animals in local populations. This is because when original habitats of some species are destroyed, the species best adapted to survive critically fragmented habitats are also the most prolific carriers of pathogens. This makes them more common, winning out over the species that do not typically transmit diseases. Again, when ocean ecosystems collapse as a result of biodiversity loss, entire communities built on the bounty they provide fold as well. Finally, biodiversity loss causes a loss in the value of nature to humanity. Beyond the utility of nature is the value of nature to humanity. Nature in its beauty is meant to just be there because it just has to be there. I wonder how humans will feel when they get up in the morning, look out the window and see no sign of life aside theirs.
In summary, understanding our dependence on nature for regulating the world’s climate and our global energy, food and water security, we can choose to cherish the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch of nature’s local and global taxonomic and functional diversity. We should support conservation work, keep cleaner environment, avoid pollution of  the lands and seas as well and try our best possible to avoid human activities that foster loss of our biodiversity.

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