The world is slipping through our fingers
I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but it has to me. I was in my favorite coffee shop, savoring a delicious freshly ground coffee and reading the news, when I saw a piece of news that left me speechless: “Species extinction rate is 1000 times higher than before humans appeared”. Yes, as you read it, 1000 times. And at that very moment, I couldn’t help but think of all the species that are getting out of hand and how, if we don’t do something about it, our world will look completely different in a few decades.
The sad reality of species loss
Looking at the data, it is impossible not to be overwhelmed. According to IPBES, nearly one million species of animals and plants are in danger of extinction. Not only that, but the habitats of these species are being destroyed at a dizzying rate. The most affected are amphibians, with almost 41% of their species in danger of extinction, closely followed by mammals, with 26%, and birds, with 14%.
The great forgotten
Often, when we talk about the loss of species, we focus on the most iconic animals, such as the Bengal tiger or the giant panda. However, there are many other living things that are disappearing at an alarming rate and receive little media attention. One example is insects, which account for approximately 80% of known animal species. Recent studies have revealed that the global insect population is declining at a rate of 2.5% per year, which could lead to a “catastrophic collapse” of ecosystems worldwide.
Our ever-changing planet
The impact of species loss is not limited to the disappearance of animals and plants. It also has devastating effects on ecosystems and people’s quality of life. For example, deforestation in the Amazon rainforest is causing the disappearance of numerous species and the alteration of the water cycle, which could have catastrophic consequences for millions of people who depend on this vital resource.
The causes behind the disappearance of species
Species loss is the result of a combination of factors, including habitat destruction, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, pollution, climate change and the introduction of invasive species. For example, overfishing is one of the main causes of declining fish stocks worldwide, while habitat fragmentation due to human development endangers numerous terrestrial species.
Globalization and capitalism: a dangerous cocktail for biodiversity
In this context, we cannot ignore the role played by globalization and capitalism in the loss of species. The constant search for economic benefits and unbridled consumption have led to the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and the depletion of ecosystems. Governments, in many cases, turn a blind eye to this situation, prioritizing economic growth over environmental and biodiversity protection. This is of particular concern in developing countries, where the pressure to industrialize and improve the quality of life of the population is often more intense.
The ease with which we ignore the problem
It is sad, but true: societies often tend to ignore environmental problems, such as species loss, until it is too late. We find it hard to accept that our daily actions have negative consequences on the planet and its inhabitants. It is therefore essential to promote education and awareness of the importance of biodiversity conservation and the need to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.
The role of citizens in biodiversity protection
Despite this bleak picture, all is not lost. You and I, as citizens, have a crucial role to play in the fight against species loss. Small actions, such as planting trees, reducing consumption of energy and animal products, recycling or participating in conservation projects, can make a big difference in protecting biodiversity.
When science and conservation go hand in hand
Scientific research is essential to understand the causes of species loss and to develop effective strategies to curb this trend. Scientists work tirelessly to document the species that inhabit our planet, study their biology and ecology, and monitor populations and their conservation status. This information is essential for making informed decisions on how to effectively protect and manage biodiversity.
Strength in numbers: collaboration between countries and organizations
Biodiversity conservation is a global challenge that cannot be addressed in isolation. Cooperation and collaboration between countries, international organizations, companies and local communities is required to implement effective and lasting solutions. The Convention on Biological Diversity is an example of an international effort to address this problem, with 196 countries committed to conserving biodiversity, using natural resources sustainably and equitably sharing the benefits derived from their use.
The importance of in situ and ex situ conservation
The conservation of species and their habitats can be carried out in two ways: in situ, which involves protecting species in their natural environment, and ex situ, which involves breeding and conserving species outside their natural habitat, such as in zoos, aquariums or botanical gardens. Both approaches are essential to ensure the survival of species and the preservation of genetic diversity.
Hope for collective action and paradigm shift
While it is true that the current situation is worrying, it is also true that collective action and a paradigm shift can make a difference in the fight against species loss. Growing awareness of the importance of biodiversity and the need to adopt a more sustainable approach to economic and social development is opening new paths towards a brighter future for our planet and its inhabitants.
A call to action
Dear reader, I want to make it clear to you that the loss of species is a problem that affects us all, and that it is the responsibility of each one of us to contribute to its solution. We cannot allow our legacy to be an empty planet devoid of the biological wealth that has given us so much. It is time to act, to educate ourselves, to change our habits and to demand that our political and business leaders take responsibility for protecting and conserving biodiversity. Because, after all, we are all part of this wonderful planet we call home.
I hope this article has helped you to reflect on the importance of biodiversity conservation and the need to act to halt the loss of species. Remember that every small gesture counts, and that together we can make a positive change in the world. Because, as the famous naturalist and science popularizer David Attenborough said: “The future of life on Earth depends on our ability to take action”.