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The Most Valuable but Least Appreciated Resource

A flower field. A clueless bunny. A ladybug on the leaves. The food we eat. The water you drink. The air we breathe.

Biodiversity. Rather in definition, the biological variety and variability of life on Earth. What do all of the things that I have listed have in common? They are all constituents of a thing bigger than us found in our ecosystems that work hand in hand to maintain balance and support life. It’s all the life you find in your area. From the birds that fly ahead in the shadows of the morning sky to the random trees in your neighbour’s garden, that is biodiversity. In a harsher perspective, from the bacteria you see in your secondary science experiments to humankind, we are all part of something bigger than ourselves, and from that, we have biodiversity.

“Alright, so why do animals and bugs matter to me?

Great question. Over the many benefits of biodiversity from fungi that can fight cancer to monkeys that help disperse seeds or mangrove swamps that protect areas from tsunamis, the importance of biodiversity is stressed enough, but not effectively. You might refute how the world will morph into an advanced globe graciously placed under the light of technological advancements, but by then, our world will be the biggest predator. I’m talking about the sixth mass extinction.

Without provisioning (the production of food, fibre, and water), regulating (climate and disease control), supporting (nutrient cycling and crop pollination) services, without biodiversity, can you imagine a life ahead of us? Over the Earth’s years, it has witnessed five mass extinctions so why are we different? Firstly, this is not caused by volcanic eruptions or meteoric impacts, but caused by us. The second reason why it’s different would be because it’s preventable. Some scientists think that it has begun but some think that there’s a long way to go before we reach the 95% extinction rate seen in the Great Dying 252 million years ago. That doesn’t stop all researchers from thinking that the present loss of biodiversity means we are heading in that direction.

The Guardian says biodiversity is like an intricate jigsaw that we are losing the pieces for; that’s an analogy about how it is our responsibility, and how we aren’t responsible. To preserve biodiversity is to “give nature the space and protection it needs.”

In giving nature the space and protection it needs, you can plant local or native plants in your household and put them by the windowsill in order to attract “good insects” like the bees, encouraging pollen dispersal. For example, you could plant the Devil’s Ivy or Pothos to some, as it is easy to grow, thrives in low lighting conditions and propagates into new plants. A flowering plant would be the Kalanchoe which can attract butterflies and bees occasionally, but if it’s planted outside, that wouldn’t be a big problem. Moreover, it is also planted in indirect sunlight and the soil shouldn’t be so wet, hence you don’t have to water it frequently.

Leave native plants and vegetation undisturbed. “They aren’t strings on your violin to be plucked”, a friend of mine has said, because the greenery in the landscape before your eyes, has already adapted to the local conditions and provides low maintenance. Moreover, monitor your pet’s impact on biodiversity as it is found that domestic animals like cats can kill millions of birds every year and evoke devastation in local species.

For the officials whose suits carry the authority to steer a country’s path, take an approach that involves the financial value of our environment’s services given as “natural capital.” In an economic perspective, donating properties or converting to renewable energy wholly for a country is unfortunately unrealistic and raises costs, so using natural capital will help with savings. After all, without a good economy, we won’t have enough resources to enrich the environment let alone enrich ourselves. In New York, for over 20 years, the city spent 2 billion dollars to take care of the natural watershed that supplies water and it has claimed its potential with 90% of the amount not needing any further filtering. If they had built a water treatment plant, it would have cost 10 billion dollars.

Moreover, if the government was to drive the economy ahead with energy, ensure that renewable energy is used properly, such as those of photovoltaic panels, and that practices like hydropower should be done in a way that doesn’t kill the marine life which inhabits the bodies of water. One further step to take would be to build fences to protect the riparian areas and avoid any trampling on vulnerable habitats.

No, this isn’t another rant on how the environment is great and worth fighting for. The environment is great and worth fighting for because it is part of the most valuable but least appreciated resource. And that is biodiversity.



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