Environmental News from India:
- Biodiversity has been defined as one of nine planetary boundaries that help regulate the planet’s operating system. But humanity is crossing those boundaries, threatening life on Earth.
- The planetary boundary for biodiversity loss was initially measured by extinction rates, but this, as well as other measurements, have proved to be insufficient in determining a global threshold for biodiversity loss. At present, a worldwide threshold for biodiversity loss remains undetermined.
- However, thresholds for biodiversity loss can be clearly defined at local or regional levels when an ecosystem goes through a regime shift, abruptly changing from one stable state to another, resulting in drastic changes to biodiversity in the changing ecosystem.
- While the planetary boundary framework provides one way of understanding biodiversity or biosphere integrity loss, there are many other measures of biodiversity loss — and all point toward the fact that we are continuing to dangerously destabilize life on Earth.
The word “biodiversity,” to some, first brings to mind the elephants, tigers, and deer in intact forests. To some others, it’s the vast coral reefs and vibrant fish in clear waters. Some others, yet, think of the bacteria and microbes that regulate nutrients in the fungi-rich soil, or oxygen-releasing phytoplankton that float in the ocean’s sunlit zones.
While biodiversity does embrace all these living things, the concept extends beyond mere species diversity or abundance. It also encompasses the infinite variety of genes that allow animals and plants to adapt and survive, as well as the diversity of planetary ecosystems, and the different functions that organisms and ecosystems play in our intricately connected world.
In short, biodiversity is the living web of species and ecosystems that form the basis of life on Earth. Humanity, of course, is part of biodiversity, but it is also a driver of biodiversity loss. Homo sapiens can negatively impact species and ecosystems through a multitude of actions, but we are also dependent on biodiversity for food, energy, medicine, economic security, and our overall well-being.
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