Biodiversity for life and nature

Iftikhar Ahmed | Published: 00:00, Oct 22,2019

 
 

— IUCN

NATURE always offers the blessing of bathing in hope, standing in faith and walking for work. Being a gift from god to humanity, it keeps on destroying. It is a reality that people do not know what is going on at the moment; there is a large amount of heat moving around the earth causing global warming. Thus, it causes the icebergs at the Artic and the Antartic to break down and melt which leads about hundreds of feet in the earth. As a consequence, high amounts of water to spread around and go on the land; flooding countries resulting ‘tsunami’ and ‘hurricanes’.

The technology and industry has not changed our reliance on the natural world; most of what we use and consume on a daily basis remains the product of interactions within nature. The crisis of biodiversity, climate and deforestation; we are living in an age when environmental issues have moved from regional to global problems.

The earth may be very different in just a hundred years than the place we inherited: species are vanishing and ecosystems are being ravaged; humans are impacting everything from the deepest ocean to the most inaccessible mountain glaciers. Biodiversity continues to decline and unless large-scale measures are taken to halt these losses.

For most of human history the idea that we could ever irrevocably change the vast and impenetrable oceans would have appeared ridiculous. The targeted fish populations have collapsed impacting ecosystems all down the line. According to marine expert, large predatory fish, including tuna, salmon, and rays, have declined by 90 per cent in 60 years. Caught as by catch and heavily-targeted for shark-fin soup, shark populations have dropped even quicker than popular fish.

We are not only impacting the oceans by over-exploitation, but with our large volume of waste. The cheap, throwaway plastic has decimated the oceans in a way that is difficult to comprehend. Not only do a number of species, such as marine turtles and birds, die from consumption of such non-degradable plastic.

Beyond threatening species, nutrient pollution from fertilizer, industrial runoff, livestock manure, and sewage leads every year to massive algal blooms in parts of the sea. These are broken down by bacteria, a process which starves the region of oxygen, leading to the so-called ‘dead zone’ where little survives but jellyfish and microbes. Nevertheless, due to greenhouse gas emissions, the oceans have been forced to sequester more carbon. This causes the oceans’ pH levels to decrease, ie become more acidic, and threatens the marine world’s ecosystem.

Moreover, world’s rainforests contain the majority of terrestrial life on earth, store vast amounts of carbon, aid cloud production, protect against desertification, provide humans with an array of life-saving medicines and yet rainforests continue to vanish at staggering rates.

The climate change is shifting where and when rain falls; dry regions are seeing less rain, and wet regions more. In the past few years, East Africa, China, Guatemala, Mali, and Australia have all experienced worse than average droughts, while some of the world’s most important rivers have decreased in water flow due to climate change eg Ganges, the Niger, the Colorado, and the Yellow River.

Extravagant consumption by the one billion or so people in the US, Canada, EU, Japan, and Australia added to increased consumption by big developing countries, such as China and India, has led to an untenable situation where human beings actually consume more resources every year than the earth produces.

The overconsumption combined with overpopulation will eventually turn on human societies, and the result will not be pretty. Signs of progressive global warming everywhere and in some cases becoming iconic. The most notable are melting glaciers, changes in animal migrations, earlier springs, exacerbated droughts, unusual flooding, longer melt season in the Arctic, global sea level rising, acidifying oceans, desertification, and worsened water shortages.

In fact, the natural world provide us with the means on which we survive eg food, water, stable climate but also gives us the inspiration for art, literature, philosophy and spirituality. A clean energy revolution solar, wind, geothermal needs rapid investment and deployment, creating in turn millions of green jobs. In addition, other greenhouse gases, such as methane, need to be quickly regulated. Forests and other carbon-important natural landscapes, from peat lands to sea grasses, should be rapidly persevered. The reforestation efforts enhancing natural forest growth should begin worldwide in order to sequester carbon with forests.

As they grow, plants extract nutrients from soil and return organic matter, which in turn enriches the soil, making it more fertile. By plantation, the productivity of the soil increases, enabling it to support more and more plant life. Water is transported around the earth by wind, falls to earth via rain and snow, nourishes plants and animals, and is returned to the sky via evaporation and transpiration more so in some other places on earth. The ocean currents and wind also follow similar patterns and together, these patterns create deserts, rainforests and other ecosystems. Animal, plant and marine biodiversity comprise the ‘natural capital’ that keeps our ecosystems functional and economies productive. But the world is experiencing a dramatic loss of biodiversity.

While we are much aware of the issues that threaten the well-being of life on this planet, including our own, how are we progressing on solutions?

Thus, it appears warranted that international bodies need to be formulating further strategies to put regulations into place to require sustainability. Bangladesh developed and released the Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan since 2009 and keeps on contributing to this prioritized global issue. Moreover, according to the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the UN to guide world leaders in policymaking, it is worth noting that the UN Decade on Biodiversity and the Strategic Plan will come to a close at the end of 2020 with new hope, insight and also bring best possible remedy for congenial living with nature.

 

Professor Iftikhar Ahmed, head of the microbiology department in Enam Medical College, has dealt for about three decades with public health and microbiology.

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