Modern western society has evolved to see the natural world as something separate from ourselves, which we interact within limited ways – consuming resources, depositing our wastes, changing landscapes to suit our purposes.
There is an urgent need to recognise our place within an integrated system; the natural world is something we are an inherent part of, and its well-being is intrinsically linked with our own.
Vital tasks performed by plants and creatures are termed “ecosystem services”. Humans would not survive without various species of plants, insects and other animals cleansing air and water, pollinating plants, controlling parasites and regulating temperatures and water flows. This is why biodiversity (biological diversity) is so important, and we must work to slow the alarming rate of species loss.
In the Earth’s lifetime, 5 “mass extinction events” have occurred, thought to be caused by various natural disasters and leading to vast numbers of species being wiped out. Massive volcanic eruptions and meteor strikes, for example, could have produced enough dust and debris to block sunlight for many months, killing plants and the creatures that rely on them. With the current rate of species decline, many scientists declare that the 6th mass extinction event is underway, caused by humans. Ultimately this is an indirect suicide, threatening the future of our own species.
Careful choices about how we live, what we buy and who from are needed, as are projects that protect and enhance biodiversity and improve understanding of its vital importance.