Carbon dioxide has taken a firm place as the focus of attention when we think about anthropogenic climate change. It makes sense why; we can understand that CO2 is an output of many human activities and technologies, and it’s an easy thing to quantify with numbers and graphs of trends – whether denialism exists or not. What’s difficult is wrapping our heads around the multitude of complicated and interconnected impacts greenhouse gas emissions are causing across the globe. Understanding the importance of biodiversity is a good starting point from which to appreciate the value in doing everything we can to reduce our environmental impact.

The game has just begun

As a result of the developing climate crisis, biodiversity seems to have passed what scientists call a threshold. Species loss, driven by habitat destruction and global warming is pushing ecosystems all over the world to, and beyond, their limits. Whilst most people would express an attachment to the wonderful species and habitats our planet is home to, there is more at stake than the loss of lovely places to visit as a tourist.

The following list highlights some of the most important benefits of healthy biodiversity – and their importance to the planet and everything that calls it home (including us).

1. Ecosystem balance

Yosemite national park
Yosemite national park is a complex ecosystem, under pressure from human activity
(Credit: Jonathan Kim)

An ecosystem is made up of all the life forms that compose it. Without healthy biodiversity, an ecosystem cannot ride out the variety of challenges it can face – from extreme weather to invasive species and variations in biological resources. Each life form (whether fungi or bird of prey) has its importance in the regulating and maintaining of the ecosystem to which it belongs. Complex cycles of resources (such as the nitrogen cycle) are made up of numerous different species, with plants and animals living in harmony to sustain themselves as they facilitate processes of consumption, absorption and decomposition in themselves and the soils and air around them.

2. Giant and self-renewing R&D Department

Humans are inspired by nature
Humans are inspired by nature credit: Nentori

The animals and plants making up a region of biodiversity are quite adaptive to changes in their settings and evolving threats. We can hypothesise that biodiversity itself will, contribute inspiration and solutions to the Anthropocene’s many challenges. From waste management taken care of by micro-organisms (or crows in the Netherlands), to innovations in textiles such as “sharkskin” wetsuits, zippers and Velcro, we get a lot of our inspiration from nature. Healthy biodiversity across the globe means a continuation of the natural processes and evolution that can serve up a correspondingly diverse range of innovation for us humans.

3. Keeping you healthy for 200,000 years

Dandelion
Dandelions are medicinal plants that detoxify our bodies.
(Credit: Paul Talbot)

Life occupies all available niches and finds parries to the numerous attacks it faces. Life changes wildlife into a gold mine of information. Get this: best estimates believe we have recorded about 1% of the world’s biodiversity, but about 25% of our medicine comes from natural resources. The study of living organisms that have adapted to conditions seemingly unfit for life has already overturned our scientific understanding of life as we know it. As we discover more and more niches of experience, our basic concepts of how life works, where it can happen, and how it can be saved grows. Even lemurs tell us something about us. #BiodiversitySolvesMysteries

4. Philosophical value of biodiversity

Nature is the place to meditate
Nature is the place to meditate credit: Frederic Edwin Church

In the lifelong journey of understanding what is what in life, the wilderness is a large part of the answer. The wild informs us about our emotions and the way we feel. Trees tell us something about the time that passes, and goats keep pushing the limits of randomness.

Thoreau once wrote, “in wildness the preservation of the world”. Biodiversity is more than the sum of its parts. The game of life will continue, with or without philosophers. Wildlife is our insurance policy against the extinction of life. What is wild may survive our downfall. For domestic goldfish, it will be a bit more complicated. #ToBeeOrNotToBe

5. The Gaia hypothesis

The Gaia hypothesis states that organic matter (living things) interact with mineral resources (air, water, even rocks) to create a synergistic and self-regulating system that perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet. By that rationale, not one element works without the other.

It is living organisms that turned this carbonated rock into an oxygen-rich, atmosphere-protected and not-too-warm-not-too-cold environment for life to thrive. Earth without presence would not be Earth. It would be something between Venus and Mars. #RockOfLife

Now, are you willing to learn how to reduce carbon emissions for your company? Eager to motivate your team colleagues to become sustainability ambassadors? Start the conversation here.