Saturday, April 19, 2008

Biodiversity. Why should you care?

Biodiversity is a term we hear a lot lately in the news. We are told that it is important, but what exactly is biodiversity? And why should you care? The ecosystem of our planet is an intricately woven fabric of life with many interdependencies. The greater the magnitude of biodiversity the healthier our ecosystem is. The Convention on Biological Diversity defines biodiversity as: "the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems." The Encyclopedia of the Earth describes the importance of this concept: "Biological diversity is of fundamental importance to the functioning of all natural and human-engineered ecosystems, and by extension to the ecosystem services that nature provides free of charge to human society. Living organisms play central roles in the cycles of major elements (carbon, nitrogen, and so on) and water in the environment, and diversity specifically is important in that these cycles require numerous interacting species." With the advent of "out-sourcing" our farming from local farms to corporate farming in the US and around the world, we have inadvertently diminished the biodiversity of our food. Corporate farming has aimed towards efficiency in supplying the foods we crave. This leads to finding food varieties that package well and are sturdy for the storage and transportation required to bring it across the many miles it often has to travel. Unique but more tender fruits and vegetables are either squeezed out by sturdier varieties or are more highly priced therefore economically squeezed out of the market. The efficiencies of corporate farming have poured ever increasing amounts of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers onto the land. This actually acts to diminish diversity and depletes the viability of the soil causing the need for more and more chemicals to force the land to produce. It also breaks the natural interaction that is produced by healthy biodiversity. We also lose in other ways when we out-source local farming to corporate farms. We lose the individuals that have helped build our nation and feed the world - the family farms. Family farms are struggling because we are buying our corporate-grown food at corporate stores which by-pass the local farmer. More and more, this food is coming from beyond our national borders where regulations are more lax. We are putting our food basket at risk by importing which puts the control of food in the hands of others and by farming in monocrops which weakens the ability of our food sources to withstand stress. We are in essence breaking down our human-diversity by allowing this to happen. If you think there is nothing you can do about this, think again. Your purse strings are your strongest vote. Buy local and buy responsibly grown food. Learn more about what you can do to encourage biodiversity: The Center for Biodiversity at the American Museum of Natural History is a great resource for finding out about the subject. Read the module: Living with Biodiversity found on the AMHN site. This is a great place to start gaining understanding of the subject as it relates to your everyday life. Ten Simple Things You Can Do to Promote Biodiversity. Watch the following video and see what one person can do.

Only 17 but he is a Super-Hero of the Local Market

Buzz it up

1 comment:

Crafty Green Poet said...

Great post, thanks! Biodiversity is so important to the functioning of the planet but also plays such a vital role in making life more enjoyable - the varieties of crops and fruit that we are losing are often tastier than the mass produced ones and anyone who enjoye birdwatching loves the variety of birds to be found out there. Thanks for the links too, I'll check those out

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