Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth. It encompasses all living things and their relationships to each other, and unites species, ecosystems, and ecological functions. Biodiversity is about being connected – all species, including humans, depend on each other to survive.
Humans depend, directly and indirectly, on biodiversity for many things, such as clean air and water, food and fibre, climate moderation and a healthy economy. Without rich and complex biodiversity, these ecosystem services would be extremely expensive or impossible to replace.
There are multiple threats to biodiversity, globally and locally. The threats include population growth, climate change, unsustainable use of the Earth’s resources (including water and air), invasive species, and pollution. Together, these fragment or destroy ecosystems, endanger species and cause ecosystem services to deteriorate.
We need to start valuing and paying for the services that nature provides to society. What gets measured often gets managed. We need to manage risk to ecosystem services now, or pay later for ecosystem services lost. We need an economy in sync with ecological limits, which means market signals and economic incentives that direct us towards ecological sustainability. Just as governments and households strive for balanced budgets, so must we strive to live sustainably within natures’ finite capacity.
Biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystem services are rapidly occurring at both global and local scales as a direct result of damaging unsustainable human activities. Yet, despite the biodiversity crisis, biodiversity is seldom given any obvious economic value. While some Canadians are concerned about biodiversity loss and profess to feel sad about it, the full magnitude of the problem, and the need for urgent action is not widely recognized.
If you had 10 minutes with an important politician, what would be the single most important ACTION you would ask that person to carry forward regarding biodiversity loss?