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Essay

Kalia Jawahir

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

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OUR SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON NATURE

 

Kalia Jawahir (Trinidad and Tobago)
Eco-generation Prize

 

 

Biodiversity refers to flora (plants), fauna (animals), and microorganisms on the planet. This includes on land and in water. Although human beings are also categorized as biodiversity, we are engaging in activities that are destroying flora, fauna, and microorganisms. With these populations diminishing, we are putting ourselves at risk as we depend on the aforementioned populations to sustain life. Every organism on the planet is dependent on each other and forms a cycle of dependency. If one or more ceases to exist, there are imbalances and adaptation is required. Those that cannot adapt may die or migrate to desirable areas. The most prominent sources of biodiversity loss, as a result of human activities, are climate change, increasing world population, and pollution.
Presently, climate change is a major contributor to biodiversity loss. Recent events that have occurred all over the globe have been attributed to this conclusion. The more devastating ones including forest fires in Australia and Brazil, heatwaves in India, Britain and Alaska, severe flooding in Iran, Africa and China, and stronger storms as well as hurricanes in the Caribbean, Mexico, and the south-eastern regions of North America. A majority of human activity produces greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere resulting in increased temperatures globally. Many animals and microorganisms have lost their lives, and several plants have been destroyed due to these events. The result is a reduction in resources required to sustain life.
With higher temperatures, there are changes in weather patterns meaning less rain in some areas and more rain in others. In the areas with less rainfall, the environmental conditions are drier, and coupled with higher temperatures are ideal for the origination of forest fires. The areas that receive more rainfall and are not accustomed to this increased rainfall suffer from extreme flooding. This displaces a lot of animals and some plants. The high temperatures themselves lead to heatwaves, especially in the summer or dry season. Present-day forest fires worldwide have led to the deaths of millions of animals, and the destruction of a variety of plants and trees as well.
Ice caps and glaciers melt with the increased temperatures and this gives rise to an increase in sea levels. The oceans and seas become warmer prompting the creation of larger and more destructive storms and hurricanes. This arises from the fact that there is the evaporation of more water due to higher temperatures and the air is warmer, allowing it to retain more moisture. The greater amount of hot, moist air which rises, contributes to storm and hurricane formation. The evaporation of more water means that there is a higher quantity of water vapor in the atmosphere which would generate an immense amount of rainfall. Aside from stronger winds created by storms and hurricanes, flooding as a result of these natural disasters will also have a greater effect. The melting ice, particularly in the Arctic has impacted polar bears who now have a limited food source and are wandering into areas where human beings reside, causing conflict and danger to both parties. Warmer oceans and seas have been causing coral bleaching which weakens the coral. Since corals act as protective barriers and homes for marine organisms such as fishes, coastal areas are more vulnerable to erosion and the marine organisms migrate resulting in a loss of food source.
With the world population increasing, demands from human beings are becoming greater than what natural resources can provide. One of the greatest impacts of this activity is that forests and other ecosystems suitable for human habitation are destroyed for building homes and other structures that humans want. When this is done, flora, fauna, and microorganisms are killed. Additionally, with the destruction of forested areas, there are fewer carbon sinks, meaning that less carbon dioxide is absorbed from the atmosphere. In present times, larger populations require transportation and this demand becomes greater, thus increasing the quantity of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and contributing to climate change. Now the ecosystems become unstable and this leads to a chain reaction of unfavorable events for biodiversity.
Increased demand for food and other materialistic supplies excluding organic products results in more garbage being produced globally. Hence, there is an increase in pollution as many countries do not have a reliable garbage collection system, and garbage is improperly disposed of. This also conveys the human activity of pollution. Garbage affecting land and water impacts the ecosystems that exist here. Sea turtles are greatly affected by plastic bags as they think they are jellyfishes which are the turtles' main source of food. Many turtles suffocate and die due to this. Sometimes, chemical disposal is conducted inappropriately, and this can harm land organisms as well as aquatic organisms.
Another issue that arises from an increase in population is the need for food, specifically meat. Nowadays any type of animal that is not protected and easy to acquire is used as food sources. More food requirements mean that a greater number of animals are killed for food. With so much meat being demanded at once, the reproduction rate of animals has decreased and if demand is not reduced many animals can become extinct. The same effect occurs as a result of killing animals such as elephants for their tusks and deer for sporting activity pleasure.
All three human activities (climate change, increased world population and pollution) described are interrelated. World population growth contributes to both climate change and pollution. Pollution, specifically air pollution, contributes to climate change. Addressing climate change and pollution is easier to focus on and deal with than population growth. If we do not act now, we seek to lose our livelihood through biodiversity loss. With goals in mind, together with enforced regulations globally, loss of biodiversity can be reversed so that we can maintain a harmonized relationship with nature and sustain life. If not, we are bound to face the wrath of mother nature.

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