Before we can even begin to comprehend the dangers faced by biodiversity in today’s day and age, it is important to understand what biodiversity actually is. Basically, biodiversity refers to the number of species that currently exist on the planet today. Although many organisms and species share common traits, even a single unique feature can be used to distinguish them from the millions of other species that presently inhabit our planet.
What is Biodiversity?
The explanation provided within the first paragraph of this write up was sufficient to allow completely unfamiliar users to catch a brief glimpse of what biodiversity actually is. However, in order to understand it more properly, a more detailed explanation is warranted. Biodiversity can be used to refer to the number of living organisms which means that it can also refer to complete ecosystems. Each organism will inherently be different from another based on its molecular structure. There are some organisms that are invisible to the naked eye.
Therefore, when we talk about diversity on a biological level, we should be prepared to think about the number and variety of species currently inhabiting planet Earth as well as ecological systems in addition to the variance in genetic makeup that can be attributed to them.
Understanding the Process of Extinction
Though threats to biodiversity are one of the main reasons why organisms cease to exist, extinction is another phenomenon which can lead to the same results although the latter process is considered to be a natural one, just a step in evolution is how many scientists will refer to it. Over the years, research has been done within this field and it has indicated that the average rate of extinction has been about 1-2 species per year. Also, the average life span of any single species at any given point in time has been about 2 to 10 million years.
Threats to Biodiversity
Over hunting is a process that has been taking place for many years now and has resulted in the death of a number of species for example whales. Many species are hunted down due to the variety of benefits that they can provide. Hunting takes place due to the need for generating food or profit. There are even some species which have played an immensely important role in allowing the fashion industry to flourish. For instance, whales provide components that are used as ingredients for a number of things such as perfumes and revitalizing lotions. Hunting can be illegal or legal. The former is associated with commercial hunting whereas the other is known as poaching.
Loss of habitat
The best way to explain this threat to biodiversity is to consider deforestation which is a direct outcome of human actions over the past hundred years. Deforestation occurs due to a number of reasons most of which are based on theories that can hardly be refuted when one considers human requirements. However, forests also provide natural habitation for a number of species which can only survive if those habitation requirements are provided at all costs. Therefore, the process of deforestation has resulted in the mass genocide of a number of species throughout the world. Deforestation has also had other types of impacts such as reducing the amount of rain which in turn has also impacted certain species which depend upon that particular aspect of nature.
The release of dangerous chemicals within the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels and other similar operations has also resulted in the degradation of the number of species in existence. Many living organisms as well as whole ecosystems have been wiped out due to the introduction of chemicals such as Nitrogen Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide within the atmosphere. Pollution has also led to the depletion of the ozone layer which itself has resulted in a number of negative associations.
As has been mentioned above, pollution has led to the depletion of the ozone layer which protects our planet against the more harmful rays of the sun. The outcome has been global climate change which has resulted in the occurrence of natural disasters as well as the rising of sea levels throughout the globe. Not only has this affected humankind but it has also served to wipe out many organisms that are inherently sensitive to temperature changes.
The above information is just the tip of the iceberg when one considers the overall impact of threats to biodiversity.