Biodiversity is an umbrella term, originated in conservation science of the 1980s, that refers to “the totality of all inherited variation in the life forms of Earth” (E.O. Wilson), from genes and microbial life, to species, biomes, and ecosystems. To bring up biodiversity is to stress how all forms of life are interconnected in complex ways. It is to advocate deep respect for the working of Earth’s living systems, most of which we do not yet fully understand. And it is to assume that human intervention in one area will always have multiple consequences to other nodes of the web of life, so think before you act.
The notion of biodiversity was introduced into mainstream conservation discourse in the 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Since then, the CBD has sponsored periodic reports on biological diversity, which summarize the status of Earth’s biodiversity and actions taken to safeguard it. The most recent Global Biodiversity Outlook report (GBO5, released in 2020) found that the world has failed to reach even one of the major biodiversity conservation targets it had set for itself in 2010. In September 2020, recognizing the unprecedented scale of biodiversity loss, 64 countries signed Leader’s Pledge for Nature to reverse biodiversity loss by 2030. The most WWF’s Living Planet Report 2022 reveals an average decline of 69% in species populations since 1970, driven by the way we currently produce and consume.
Some of the recent proposals to save the world’s biodiversity include E.O. Wilson’s Half Earth—a call to set aside half of the land and half of the ocean surface to preserve sufficient habitat to ensure the long-term health of the planet; The Wyss campaign for Nature which seeks to mobilize the world to protect 30% of the marine and terrestrial surface by 2030; and Doug Tellamy’s grassroots initiative Homegrown National Park, which encourages individuals to massively rewild any land they own (in the U.S., 76% of the land is in private hands and 85.6% of the land east of the Mississippi is privately owned too).
©2023 ClimateLit (Marek Oziewicz)
by Adam Gidwitz
“Brand-new friend. Terrifying teacher. Mythical animal. Breaking and entering. First day at a new school.”
“Kiri scanned the forest, spotting the panther less than a stone’s throw from where she crouched. Moonlight glinted off the panther’s fiery green eyes as the creature studied her. Follow, whispered a voice that sounded less like her mother, and more like the hiss of a cat.”