No, I am not writing about the new Spiderman movie.
I am writing about the issue of habitat loss.
Each year, approximately 1% of original forest habitat is lost. The current rate of deforestation is 160,000 square kilometres per year, and that’s just a mere estimation. Some ecosystems suffer a worser fate. As a matter of fact, the World Economic Forum states, ‘23% of Earth’s natural habitats could be gone by 2100’. That sounds worse than the Green Goblin, doesn’t it?
But what happens if habitats are lost? What happens to wildlife and the environment?
For starters, the primary consequence of habitat loss is ‘a reduction in biodiversity’. There is always an abundant variety of animals in a particular setting, and different animals need different living conditions. To illustrate, a polar bear needs to live in an icy location, while camels are naturally adapted to live in sunny places, like deserts. However, if they lose their natural home, or parts begin to deteriorate, the number of animals or species will rapidly deteriorate too. As more homes get eradicated, more creatures find themselves with no way home. If so, the species will likely go extinct.
Furthermore, if there is a reduction in habitats, climate regulation weakens too. Loss of biodiversity affects our current climate, since it won’t be able to regulate carbon emissions as much. For example, forest habitats help absorb carbon dioxide, and many landscape patterns or marine ecosystems are responsible for carbon sequestration. With them gone, there will be a significant growth in air pollution, and a significant decrease in trees.
However, what are the causes of habitat loss? Are there possible methods of mitigation?
Although habitat destruction can be caused by natural events, like earthquakes, lightning and tsunamis, four out of the five main causes are caused by humanity. First and foremost, pollution. The problem of pollution has been touched upon enough to be a truth universally acknowledged. With factories emitting greenhouse gases and littering being a public daily action, pollution is a danger, created from human hands. Secondly, invasive species. These creatures are not only capable of extinctions of plants or animals, they destroy habitats too, by endangering natural resources in our ecosystems as well as disrupting the food web. Thirdly, agricultural development. Pressure from agriculture is the principal human cause, for example, mining and logging are two detrimental activities. Moving on, diminished resources. With over 4 billion people being estimated to live in urban cities worldwide, it’s no surprise that in some areas, biodiversity is lacking essentials, such as water and food. Furthermore, a practice that many tend to constantly do is destructive fishing, which pollutes marine environments, limiting more resources. Last but not least, the disruption to ecosystems. Due to all these factors, the consequences tend to be harsh. For instance, wildfires. Humanity’s actions have led to alterations in the intensity and frequency of fires, and that has led to more habitats being destroyed, and an increase in global warming. In brief, it’s safe to say that humans have a large hand in habitat destruction.
Considering that the majority of the causes of habitat loss is under humanity’s responsibility, it seems that the best thing that can alleviate it is us as well. Luckily, there are many initiatives globally that seem to work towards the greater good, for instance, Greenpeace, the United Nations Environment, and the World Wide Fund for nature. As for youth-oriented organisations, some notable ones are Greener is Cleaner, Fridays for Future and SustainUS (feel free to check them all out!). While they are doing their part, it’s important that we all do our part too! Here are some solutions you can implement in your life, to prevent habitat destruction:
Use your voice - Just because Peter Parker may be making dumb decisions, doesn’t mean you should follow suit. Everyone has a voice, it just depends on how they use it. This is the easiest solution by far, spreading awareness to others and educating your fellow peers not only help more engage in curing the environment, but it means that there will be a larger, and more cleaner impact too.
Preserve / improve / create greenspace - If there is any nearby good-quality greenspace, make sure to protect it and prevent urban development from destroying it. If the greenspace happens to be degrading, improve it and manage it to sustain healthily. And finally, create greenspace. Grow more trees, and plant more native plants. If possible or provided the opportunity, you could grow a certified wildlife habitat, with simple food, water and shelter.
Be specific - think about which alternative or which action will bring the best impact. For instance, when planting, plant native species of flora and fauna, for those preserve the ecological balance of any local habitats.
Use harmless products - always opt for nature-based, non-toxic products to use in the household or gardening. As an example, if any chemical is sprayed on plants, they are able to be washed away by wind or rain, into the waterways, before escaping into larger water bodies.
Sustainable Development - support organisations that strive to conserve habitats, donate a little money when possible, read up on different other solutions and start implementing them, switch to forest products, and many more. Whatever it is, remember that a little can go a long way.
In conclusion, though humanity has harmed the habitats tremendously, the power to solve the damage lies in us as well. We have the power, and as Aunt May famously quotes in No Way Home, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’.