By Sierra Zaccagnino
In our world today, everyone always depends on someone or something. No one is ever truly independent from all other activities in their community because everyone plays a part, no matter how big or how small. This is true not only for humans, but also for all organisms and individuals on Earth.
There is a link between all of us because we live in an interdependent ecosystem. The extinction of one species affects another, which affects another, which affects another, and so on. No one seems to mind this, until the day when it could affect us. Biodiversity is something that needs to be conserved not just because its interesting to live in a world of such variety, but more importantly because it boosts ecosystem productivity, where each species has a role.
Being close to extinction are the African Forest Elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis), which are a very genetically diverse species. These elephants come from mainly Central Africa and are vital to their tropical ecosystem. They maintain it through seed dispersal and germination, nutrient cycling, and herbivory. Nutrients are chemicals necessary in any ecosystems for organisms to effectively grow, survive and decompose.
Even though most adult elephants do not have any natural predators that need them for food, they are essential for providing other tasks for the environment, such as those just briefly mentioned. Without the African Forest Elephants, many species would not be able to survive. Although this does not impact humans directly, it goes to show that extinctions can have a chain of effect.
The loss of biodiversity in most ecosystems can be attributed to one thing – human activities. Major causes include habitat loss and degradation, pollution, introduction of invasive species, deforestation, and global warming. Most, but not all, of these come clearly from human intervention.
Although we may be the cause of the problem, we can also be the solution.
To help stop deforestation, humans can make smart decisions that shift consumption and land use patterns in less wasteful directions. Yes, this includes recycling! Everyone always says to recycle, and everyone always overlooks it, but it really is important. Recycling products means that people can reuse the same amount of paper and materials without the need to cut down more trees to manufacture a greater amount.
To help with pollution, make sure to dispose trash appropriately, use environmentally safe products, wash your car on the lawn, pick up after your pets, don’t litter, and recycle (yes, that applies here too!).
To help habitat loss, learn about your property before you build on it. Not everything in life has to be about going to the extremes to pursue change because sometimes it’s as simple as education! Of course, this applies to almost every cause of biodiversity loss here. Most of this may seem impossible for any one individual to solve, but staying educated and sharing with others is the way that change starts.
Submitted by our members as well as teens across the world.