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Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth that refers to all the living organisms and the ecosystem in which they all belong to. I have chosen this topic as my research topic because I have very minimal knowledge about it and I would like to understand about it more. Biodiversity is harmed by population growth and resource consumption, habitat conversion and urbanization, over-exploitation of natural resources, and environmental degradation, but mostly by climate change and global warming. So this essay analyses how climate change and global warming affect biodiversity.
The impact of global warming and climate change on biodiversity is huge, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), from the year 2015 to 2019, the level of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases has increased by 20% which harmed the environment, bringing many bad effects to the environment because it rises the global temperature. An example of the effect of climate change is the shrinking ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic. In 2019, the Antarctic lost 16% of its icy sheets during late November whilst, Greenland lost 10.9 million square miles, which is 80 to 90 percent of its icy sheets during the same time. Global warming and climate change will cause ocean temperature to rise because the ocean absorbs the excess heat from the greenhouse gas emission. The increase in temperature of the ocean affects the marine species and ecosystem, causing coral bleaching and the loss of breeding grounds for marine fishes and mammals. Food security will be threatened because there will be a decrease in marine fishes and mammals due to the loss of breeding grounds.
The population of bees declining is mainly caused by climate change. Bees that are unable to adapt would have to constantly move to a place they are suitable in but some would die if they are unable to find a place, they are suitable in. Bees are the world’s most important pollinators of food crops, without them there wouldn’t be food for humans and animals as there aren’t any bees to help with the pollination of food crops.
Glacier retreats are another effect of global warming and climate change. With glaciers melting, sea levels will rise, causing floods affecting people that live at low-lying areas by destroying their homes and their valuable items, making them homeless.
Another effect would be extreme events such as floods, storms, heatwaves, and droughts. Heatwaves were the deadliest meteorological hazard in the 2015-2019 period, affecting all continents and resulting in numerous new temperature records. Heatwaves affect the elderly and workers such as those in the construction industry who are required to work under the sun for long hours, resulting in some suffering from heatstroke.
Lastly, wildfires which is considered to be under extreme events. Wildfires are usually caused by droughts in most forest regions. Wildfires cause haze which affects the health of people as it is toxic, especially people who have respiratory problems like asthma. In September 2019, the forest fires of Indonesia caused haze and it spread to Malaysia. The haze was at a toxic level, above the API of 200, causing many schools to close down for multiple days. In 2019, Australia had a massive wildfire that affected more than 11 million hectares of bush, forest, and parks, and had an estimation by specialists that around 1 billion animals were affected by the fires. They affect the lives of the species living in forests as their homes are being burnt down and cause them to be threatened, this will mean our food security will also be threatened. Food security is threatened because farmlands will be burnt by the fires, burning all the crops. Even after the wildfire is over, farmers would have to clear the land again and wait for the soil to heal before planting again which is a long process. But not all species will affect us, for example, the dodo bird, it has been extinct for decades and humans have been living fine without it. Wildfires will affect humans the most because wildfires are uncontrollable once it is started and can burn down rows of houses and buildings, leading people to be homeless and being left with nothing as all their properties are burned down.
Natural resources are resources that exist without any action of humankind. There are two types of natural resources which is renewable resources and non-renewable resources, just like its name, one can be renewed and one can’t which means once it is finished, it would be extinct.
Over-exploitation of natural resources is also one of the biggest threats to biodiversity. An example of over-exploitation would be overfishing. Countries like China, Peru, Chile, Japan, and Russia are one of the biggest contributors to the overfishing problem. Nearly 80% of the world’s fisheries are already fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse, and 90% of the stocks of large predatory fish, such as sharks, tuna, marlin, and swordfish are almost gone due to overfishing. Overfishing can degrade the ecosystem if it is not being stopped, it will create an imbalance that can erode the food web and lead to a loss of other important marine life. It will decrease food and economic security, fish is one of the most highly demanded food as it is depended on by everyone as a source of protein, if fishes ever disappear, it will have a big impact on the economic security as jobs relating to the coastal environment will also be gone as it will not be needed anymore, leading to a high rate of unemployment.
Another example of the over-exploitation of natural resources is the overexploitation of forests. Trees provide us with oxygen, absorb unwanted carbon and protect us from droughts and extreme weather, trees also lower the air temperature and reduce the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide. Forests cover 31% of the land on earth, but every year we lose 18.7 million acres of forests due to the exploitation of forests. One of the main causes for deforestation would be because of the increase in population. Forests are being cleared away to obtain land, food is needed so land is needed to farm for food, and demand for fuelwood is increasing because of the increase of population. Just like how overfishing can degrade the ecosystem, so can the overexploitation of forests. Forests are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Animals that live in the forests will be heavily affected if the overexploitation of forests continues. When their homes are being cleared away, they do not have anywhere to go and nowhere to find food, and they would just die. This will increase the rate of extinction. 13.2 million people across the world have a job in the forest sector and another 41 million have a job that is related to the sector, one day if the forests get fully exploited, these people would lose their jobs, and they would be unemployed. The president of Brazil weakened the environmental laws, scaling back efforts to fight illegal mining, logging, and ranching. This has caused a big impact on the Amazon natives and animals as the rate of deforestation increases.
One possible course of action to help biodiversity would be to preserve it. Global warming and climate change can be stopped by the actions of humans, they would have to change their lifestyles completely. Non-renewable energy sources are burnt to generate electricity and it actually produces carbon dioxide when it is being burnt which causes global warming and climate change. Instead of using non-renewable energy sources to generate electricity, people can use solar energy to generate electricity for their houses because it uses renewable energy which is sun and wind. People can also replace their cars that use fuel to smart cars that use electricity. Carpooling, public transportation, walking, and riding bicycles is also other ways to help with global warming and climate change. Walking and using bicycles do not produce any harmful gases to the air and by carpooling and using public transportation, lesser gases are being produced compared to everyone driving their own cars. Air conditioners produce chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) which is a type of greenhouse gas, people can replace using air conditioners to fans that work on solar energy.
Population growth can be controlled by putting a law where a couple can only have a certain number of children. An example would be China’s one-child policy, the law was first introduced in 1979 and ended at the end of 2015. The law was introduced due to the overpopulation in China and wanted to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems. China’s one-child policy was very successful as the rates of children being birthed annually dropped by a large amount. Another way to control population growth will be to educate people about sexual education and family planning. Many people do not receive this education as they might think they already have enough knowledge about it, but they actually don’t. This education teaches people how contraception has a big impact.
A course of action to prevent the overexploitation of natural resources is to reduce the usage of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are non-renewable as they take millions of years to form, most energy sources use fossil fuels to generate energy but people can use other sources to generate energy like renewable energy such as wind or sun energy. Another course of action would be implying laws to protect trees and forests. This law would stop people from exploiting trees and forests and stop them from clearing forests. This will not allow saving the homes of species living in the forests but people who have jobs in the forest sector would have job security.
The research I have conducted, it proves that human survival depends on preserving biodiversity. I think that global warming and climate change will be the biggest effect if biodiversity is not preserved because the coastal ecosystem will be affected and so will us humans. If the coastal ecosystem is affected, food security will be affected as well. Global warming and climate change will cause extreme events which will heavily affect the lives of humans and destroy the homes of humans. If global warming and climate change do not be stopped, lives of humans would be hanging at the edge of the cliff. This research has taught me a lot about biodiversity, I had no clue about biodiversity at the start of this project and finished this project learning a lot. I have learned that the reason why biodiversity is in great danger is because of the actions of us humans, it will also take a lot of help from humans to save the biodiversity. From what I learned through my research, I would change my lifestyle in order to save the biodiversity even if it is a small act like walking to places that are close and avoiding wasting materials made by natural resources like paper.
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