Colin Perkins-Taylor

Reading Summaries:

National Wildlife Federation:

• National Wildlife Federation defines biodiversity as the multiplicity of organisms on the planet and within an ecosystem

  1. Genetic biodiversity=differences in genes present within a single species (example=dogs)

  2. Ecological biodiversity=differences in the same type of environment, but in different locations (example=Amazon rainforest vs. Congo rainforest)

• Estimated that there are between 3 million and 30 million species on Earth with some approximations as high as 100 million

• Approximately only 1.7 million species discovered so far

• Biodiversity is important for many reasons:

  1. Wide variety of food and materials

  2. Medicinal cures often come from genetic research

  3. Genetic diversity allows for greater survival rate from diseases

• Increased rate of species extinction today primarily due to human causes such as habitat destruction, climate change, and pollution

• 1/3 of all known species face extinction today

Conserve Energy Future:

• Biodiversity represents the variety of life on Earth or specifically within an individual ecosystem

• Includes large species as well as plants and microorganisms

• The United Nations dedicated the decade from 2011-2020 as the Decade on Biodiversity

• Biodiversity is unevenly distributed globally because some ecosystems and environments have more species variety than others

• Factors that affect biodiversity=temperature, precipitation, and relationships with other species in the ecosystem

• Functions of biodiversity:

  1. Maintains health of an ecosystem

  2. Base of medicine for people

  3. Tourism

  4. Provides a variety of food sources

  5. Numerous industrial materials

• Primary threat to biodiversity is habitat loss

• 30% of all species on Earth could be extinct in 2050

• Ecosystems are fragile, so loss of one species can have a chain of effects -fresh water ecosystems are the most threatened

• Invasive species no longer restrained by natural barriers, so they can take over an ecosystem easily

• Global warming altering ecosystems at a high rate, fueling extinction

One Green Planet:

• Humans are threatening biodiversity because of the current food industry

• Consequence of greater crop production has come at the cost of the environment

• Reliance on a few crops means a greater threat to human food supply in the future

• Some of our main crops are susceptible to temperature changes and will be affected by climate change

• Need a wide variety of crops to maintain good harvests

• Food industry crops are replacing local food sources

• World is adopting a similar diet, eliminating various forms of cuisine

Questions for The Class:

  1. Do you value or feel obligated to protect biodiversity? Why or why not?

  2. The rate of extinction today is higher than the naturally occurring rate of extinction primarily due to human causes such as global warming and habitat loss, so is it our responsibility to protect other species?

  3. Should we value some organisms more than other? If so, why do humans get to decide that?

  4. Can we reverse the mass number of extinctions or is it too late to preserve biodiversity?

  5. Are there any solutions to save wildlife?

  6. Do you think we can cease human expansion soon or are there other solutions for preserving the environment?

  7. Because biodiversity is fragile and easily influenced by many factors such as temperature and precipitation, how can we maintain the proper environment for species to thrive?

  8. Should there be a limit to how much of the environment humans can destroy vs. how much of nature is left alone?

Class Comments:

When posed with the question of whether or not it is a human obligation to preserve biodiversity because it is threatened primarily due to human causes such as climate change and habitat loss, the class had a variety of answers. Some believed that because humans are increasing the extinction rate we should do what we can to save species, but if this extinction process occurred naturally we would not have to be as active in preserving biodiversity. Others thought that people need to pick and choose which species to preserve based on their usefulness to humans. One student even suggested that in the future with technology we will have the ability to revive extinct species as long as we have a piece of their DNA.

When asked the question of what made it the right of humans to decide the fate of other species, the class was not as responsive as expected. While it was clear that many were thinking about the question, there were not a lot of distinct answers. One student replied that it is our duty to protect biodiversity overall and not just focus on a particular species. This idea was expanded upon by another student who thought that people need to preserve the organisms that are most vulnerable to climate change and habitat loss as opposed to those that are the most beneficial to humans.

Since humans have overpopulated the planet and our total population continues to increase, it has led to the need for more space for homes and agriculture. As a result, we cut down rainforests and alter the environment to fit our own species needs. In so doing, humans are also destroying the habitats of thousands of other species. I asked the class about their opinions on what some solutions for preserving biodiversity in the future could be. The class’ responses ranged from eliminating deforestation to establishing new federal parks and enforcing the regulations on the ones that already exist. One student also presented the idea that we must become more aware of where our products and the materials used to make them come from.

Works Cited:

Rinkesh. “What is Biodiversity?” Conserve Energy Future, Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.

“What is Biodiversity?” National Wildlife Federation, edited by Collin O’Mara, Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.

“Why on Earth Should You Care About Biodiversity?” One Green Planet, Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.