Written by David DeFranza
Estimates of species loss are, without a doubt, staggering. In 2007, Sigmar Gabriel, the Federal Environment Minister of Germany, cited estimates that up to 30% of all species will be extinct by 2050. Others have estimated that as many as 140,000 species are lost each year. The alarming trends have led some to declare the current period the “Sixth Great Extinction.”
But, extinctions—even mass extinction events—are not new. Though the current trend is caused, undeniably, by human action—through poaching, habitat destruction, pollution, and anthropogenic climate change, among others—mass reductions in biodiversity can—and have—occur without human interference.
The question then, is what does humanity lose when global biodiversity is significantly reduced?
Simply: A lot. Here are six significant human problems caused by reduced biodiversity:
1. Economic Cost of Lost Biodiversity
Topping the list, of course, is the monetary value of biodiversity around the world. In terms of ecosystem services—functions like pollination, irrigation, soil reclamation and other things that would have to be paid for if nature couldn’t take care of it on its own—the value of global biodiversity has been estimated in the trillions. Because of this, deforestation alone has been estimated to cost between $2-5 trillion annually worldwide.
Top photo from picturen8 via flickr
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