In an effort to increase awareness of biodiversity issues, the United Nations (UN) has designated today, May 22, as the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB).
According to the UN, more than a million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction, and hundreds to thousands of species are vanishing every year.
Biodiversity loss is directly tied to human activities, such as overexploitation of resources, land degradation, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Humans are transforming the Earth in ways that threaten the survival of plants and animals. But a planet without diverse species is a place that is no longer suitable for humans to live.
By losing biodiversity, we lose critical ecosystem services that regulate air and water quality and provide food security. Our reliance on biodiversity cannot be overstated. Diverse habitats are involved in every aspect of balancing the complex systems of nature.
“As the global community is called to re-examine our relationship to the natural world, one thing is certain: despite all our technological advances we are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for our water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy, just to name a few,” writes the UN.
The UN reports that more than 80 percent of the human diet is provided by plants, and fish provide 20 percent of animal-based protein to about 3 billion people. An estimated 80 percent of people in rural areas across developing countries depend on plant-based medicines for basic healthcare.
Without drastic conservation efforts, biodiversity loss is expected to accelerate through 2050, and the effects will be most pronounced in areas hit the hardest by global warming. But there is still time to change this trajectory.
The UN reminds us that “2020 is a year of reflection, opportunity and solutions.”
“It is expected, from each of us, that we will ‘build back better’ by using this time to increase the resilience of nations and communities as we recover from this pandemic.”
“2020 is the year when, more than ever, the world can signal a strong will for a global framework that will bend the curve on biodiversity loss for the benefit of humans and all life on Earth.”
The theme of this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity is “Our solutions are in nature.”
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer