19 October 2010

Loss of global biodiversity preventable with aggressive conservation efforts

Variety is the spice of life and that same adage can be applied to biodiversity, which is a simple umbrella term referring to the millions upon millions of unique life forms that exist on our planet. If you read the daily headlines however, you’re likely aware of the fact that Mother Nature is in trouble and has been for quite some time now. In just the past five decades alone, environmental experts estimate that 60% of our global ecosystems have degraded and well over 1/3 of our planet’s species are presently threatened by extinction.

Mankind has adopted a rather shortsighted perspective regarding the connection between industry, the pursuit of lavish lifestyles and the depletion of natural resources, resulting in the mess that our global species are in today. Despite the ground-breaking introduction of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, we’ve still managed to destroy a significant amount of diverse habitat (such as what can be found in the dwindling Amazon rainforest) and ushered in an acceleration of mass extinctions. The majority of global citizens still fail to grasp that what happens all the way around the world most definitely affects our immediate neck of the woods. Furthermore, it is an issue we must address today rather than sometime in the future.

Without this symbiotic web of diverse life in place, global food and water supplies become increasingly compromised, in turn affecting our health through the reduced consumption of protein/nutrient-rich foods as well as the transmission of infectious diseases. Additionally, energy security is a significant concern (among many other factors) since wood fuel is regularly used in both developing and highly industrialized nations.

On the occasion of this year’s Convention on Biological Diversity (currently underway), the International Fund for Animal Welfare is urging aggressive conservation measures throughout the upcoming decade in order to offer relief to a minimum of 10% of presently endangered species. Unfortunately as history has repeatedly suggested, somehow targets tend to be missed, as was the case when European Union leaders met in Gothenberg, Sweden back in 2001 (boldly declaring that they would halt biodiversity loss by the conclusion of 2010.) Citing a failure to effectively implement nature protection laws among other issues, they have now added 10 years to their new target date.

As we approach the final months of the International Year of Biodiversity -- meant to highlight the threats to biodiversity, the relevance of conservational efforts and illicit valuable solutions which halt loss of species – we need to do much more than formulate a plan of action. The UN Goodwill Ambassador For Biodiversity, Edward Norton, feels that it’s time we embrace a deeper global commitment to species conservation that involves education and engagement. For inspiration regarding what you can personally do to aid the cause, be sure to review the WWF's suggestions on how to preserve biodiversity through daily habits and also make a point of supporting eco-responsible companies that put planet above profit.

Elizah Leigh | @elizahleigh
A dedicated green journalist and currently commissioned to write a comprehensive reference book on vegetarianism, Elizah Leigh hopes to inspire people through her words. Follow Elizah on Facebook.

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/gsfc