By Laura Galdi
The loss of global biodiversity has reached historic levels and it is continuing to accelerate — due to increased pressure by five direct drivers strongly interconnected to each other.
With more than 1 million species at risk of extinction, we are witnessing a biodiversity crisis, inextricably linked to and directly affected by the climatic one. The rise in temperatures, together with more frequent extreme weather events such as wildfires are causing widespread death of wildlife, and animal populations to migrate in search of ecosystems better able to provide for them.
In turn, animal populations’ migration, coupled with increased tourism and global trade of both animals and plants, often leads these non-native, invasive species to disrupt local ecosystems’ functions, as well as potentially completely replace native species that are paramount for those same ecosystems’ balance.
And yet, the principal direct driver of biodiversity loss is change in land and sea use — such as deforestation for infrastructure, agriculture, and mining — connected to another key driver, overexploitation of natural resources — such as overfishing and over-harvesting. Besides being leading forces of the above-mentioned direct drivers — global demand for fossil fuels for heat and power, global population growth, and high consumption lifestyles sustained through large-scale food production and consequent use of pesticides and chemicals, as well as enormous quantities of plastic and microplastic that are released in natural environments, are sources of pollution which also directly contributes to losing biodiversity.
The degradation and destruction of natural habitats are causing the decrease in biological diversity to approach a tipping point. Along with an accelerated species extinction rate, continuous biodiversity loss will be leading to increased transmission of animal diseases to human populations, threatened food security and medicinal resources, lower ecosystem resilience, as well as increased conflict between human and wildlife populations.
[We need a shift in human consciousness and our perception of our own role on earth.]
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