Our dependency on biodiversity
About 50 years ago, small fisherfolks from Batangas, Philippines were well content living from the fish catch they had within the 15km fishing grounds from the shoreline. The 20-kilogram daily fish catch was enough to feed their families and meet other everyday needs. Sadly, the fish catch today dramatically reduced to 4.76 kg per day. Most fisherfolks almost had no more fish to catch within their fishing ground provision. They became poorest of the poor. Commercial fishing vessels have dominated the area, leaving little to no fishes at all for them to catch. The coastal waters became barren on the accounts of overfishing, including the use of Illegal fishing practices, water pollution and climate change1.
What is biodiversity and why is it important?
In a grander scale perspective, the good of every human being relies on healthy biological systems and well managed biological resources. The ability to live within clean surroundings enables us to thrive and be productive in our communities. It means to be able to freely breathe clean air, drink potable water, gaze through green landscapes and enjoy the outdoors without the scare of harmful insects.
Biodiversity is one of the greatest heritage given to us upon being born on this planet. Unlike other inheritances such as houses, properties, bank accounts, etc., it may not be noticeably acknowledged. Biodiversity has always been there since the beginning. They are the living organisms around us, whether it be animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, viruses, archaea, algae or protozoans 2. They are the building blocks of the environment we live in. They are what is known as the variety of life.
We depend on biodiversity for survival. We harness its biological, economic, leisure and medical properties. When you take your vitamin tablets, where do you think they come from? When you grab a lemonade quench to your thirst, where did it originate? When you show affection to your pet dog, isn’t it another life form that you care about? In the morning, if you want to have pancakes and coffee for breakfast, do you wonder where flour and coffee beans come from? Our everyday life is simply gifted with the amazing benefits of biodiversity.
Biodiversity also supplies us the complex elements that make up our busy lives today. It provides the raw materials needed so we can pursue specific goals. Some examples include, the papers we need to publish books, the ink required to print letters and images, the foundational structure of houses and offices for shelter and workplace, the fabric materials of fashionable clothes we wear so we can present ourselves with dignity and style. Biodiversity is a necessary and valuable resource in big and small matters of our daily living.
This discussion only touches a glimpse of how biodiversity impacts urban living. Many countries are highly dependent on biodiversity for food, agriculture and economics. More aspects will be explored in the next articles. In the story of the fisherfolks above, they depend for food and living in their fish catch. The decline of fish resources in the ocean made the fishermen and their families suffer hunger and poverty. These problems have more repercussions. We must go back to the source of why the fishes were disappearing.
Having known some of the benefits that biodiversity provides, it’s necessary to gain an understanding of what it is and how it functions. We interact with biodiversity every day. Whatever happens to it, will definitely affect us directly or indirectly. Whether it be good or bad, biodiversity impacts the quality of our lives. Sometimes we don’t experience these impacts because they happen in small scales. However, should we choose to be passive and not pay attention, the impacts become bigger in such a way that is destructive to us human beings. And we really don’t want that to happen for our sake and that of our children.
There are now more serious issues that we face about our environment because of our ignorance or probably, more of complacency on our part as stewards of the biodiversity resources that we have. The good news is, there is still time for us to change in a way that is helpful to all of nature and the biodiversity within it. The time is now.
Although of critical importance, saving our biodiversity is not just about rescuing the whales, planting more mangroves, cleaning beach waters, replanting forest trees and many other conservation works. It’s also about changing our mind on how we treat all other organism’s life around us. They are the providers of our day-to-day living. Thus, we need to recognize their roles and respect the algorithm of their survival as well.
In other countryside places, you can still simply harvest vegetables and fruits from your garden whenever you’re hungry. Today, we get food from the fridge which came from groceries bought from Waltermart. The bottom line is, if we recognize that we live on the same grounds where these organisms live, then we would want to make sure that we are taking care of each other and do our part responsibly.
What does it mean? We dispose our rubbish responsibly. We don’t buy shark fin soup, which are taken from endangered sharks. We don’t patronize buying jewelries made of elephant ivory. We don’t burn all of our trash just to dispose them. If we own factories that emit smoke, we do our best to minimize smoke emission.
It actually means a lot of things. We also need to bring our families and children to outdoor places like the natural parks where they can see for themselves the beauty and importance of biodiversity. We need to help them have an awareness and appreciation of the variety of life that surround them. We need to pursue activities that will change their minds towards biodiversity so that conservation actions can be perpetuated throughout generations.
Featured Image – What is biodiversity? | CC Image courtesy of MaxI100