An important conversation
If you read the news or got on social media in the past couple of months, you probably heard about the fires in the Amazon. Seeing the largest rainforest in the world up in flames was traumatic, and it brought an important discussion about protecting the Amazon, and the natural world as a whole, to the public discourse, also known as Twitter.
And while this conversation seems to have faded into the background over the past few weeks, there’s still so much to talk about. Not only is the Amazon the largest rainforest on Earth and home to millions of indigenous people, it’s also one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.
What is biodiversity, and why should we care about it?
Biodiversity is the variety of life on the earth and is typically measured at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Think of all the different kinds of species that call earth home, the unique subspecies within these groups, and each organism’s unique genetic makeup.
Though biodiversity for biodiversity’s sake can be compelling enough (I mean, who doesn’t like having lots of awesome animals around?), you should be concerned with biodiversity because the health of the entire planet depends on it.
Think of biodiversity like a weave; genetic, species, and ecosystem biodiversity all form knots that help hold an ecosystem together. In this weave, organisms of all sizes and types can play vital roles, from the honeybees pollinating our plants to the seemingly lifeless coral reefs providing habitats for more than a quarter of ocean creatures.
When an ecosystem is biodiverse, it’s more resistant changes. And in a world made up of ecosystems, you want those ecosystems to be healthy, with a strong weave of biodiversity holding them together. It’s an awesome natural defense mechanism that mother nature has been developing for billions of years, but it can’t be taken for granted.
When ecosystems experience a pattern of species loss, those knots in the weave come apart, threatening all living things within them. Scientists say the concerning pattern of extinctions we’ve seen over the past few decades poses an existential threat to the entire planet, with some saying we’re living in the sixth mass extinction right now.
What can we do about it?
Things like the Amazon fires may leave you feeling helpless when it comes to protecting our natural world. But you don’t have to be a biologist, environmentalist, or politician to make a positive impact. Concerned citizens of all ages can literally change the world right where they are.
It starts by increasing your own awareness of the issues facing our natural world today, and, hey, reading this was a step in the right direction. Raising awareness among your friends, family, and community, goes a long way, too.
At TIP, our vision is for academically talented individuals to flourish, transforming communities and the world. That means that in the midst of challenges like habitat loss, climate change, pollution, and other things that threaten our global ecosystem, we find hope knowing that our brightest young minds are growing up informed, concerned, and involved in finding solutions.