Tons of resources extracted from Earth
Globally, this year
An ecosystem is a community of plants, animals and other living organisms that share the benefits of a particular space or environment such as air, food, water and soil. It’s no different from our human community where every citizen of a city relies on its own resources and interacts with its environment.
In an ecosystem, each organism has its role and purpose. Disturbing the balance of an ecosystem can be disastrous for all the living things relying on it. An example of an ecosystem are Coral Reefs but there are much smaller ecosystems. Each ecosystem differ in size and components, but the important thing to remember is that no matter the size, it’s a symbiotic community.
Our Earth is also considered as an ecosystem on a much larger scale. When we introduce external factors such as too much carbon dioxide or methane, it destroys the balance of the ecosystem which in turn affects those who live in it. The result is global warming, water shortage, extinction of species, etc. These impacts every living thing on the planet, which includes us. The impact of ecosystem destruction will be felt by everything eventually.
When an ecosystem is stable and healthy, we call it Sustainable. This means that it is capable of sustaining itself and reproducing. Sustainable ecosystems have biodiversity. There’s a variety of species and organisms living there and contributing.
Ecosystem destruction is already happening. 25% of our coral reefs have disappeared and it is expected that 60% more will be gone in 30 years. This is due to ocean acidification, water pollution and illegal fishing. If all the corals go, what will happen to our marine life?
More: Threats on Coral Reefs
Deforestation is caused by Illegal logging and human need and progress. More than 4.6 million hectares of forest have been burned or cut down. How many species have become extinct due to this? How many homes have been destroyed?
Habitat loss is endangering our animal species. Even our apex predators are being affected – the lion, tiger, polar bear and even the majestic mountain gorillas are all being threatened by habitat loss.
Humans destroy ecosystems. Our lifestyle creates pollution and we overuse our natural resources. Today, we are using the resources of 1 and ½ planet Earths, even though we only have one. We build roads, hunt animals, cut down trees destroying forests and just litter the planet like crazy. We waste resources that are not infinite and will soon run out, if we continue our practice.
In the past 60 years, 60% of the Earth’s ecosystem has been degraded. To date, we have extracted approximately 23 billion tons of resources from the Earth. That’s this year alone. It’s a continuous practice in spite of our best efforts to change.
Our natural ecosystems are finding it hard to cope with the different pressures and are unable to adjust. If we continue depleting resources and destroying our environment, soon it will be too late for them to recover, even with our help.
When we’ve mined what we can from our planet, when all animals have died, when there are no more fish in the sea, when the Earth is barren and devoid of trees… what will happen to us?
Like I mentioned, everything relies on everything else around it. Our planet is alive and interconnected and we are part of that web.
The impact of ecosystem destruction are the following:
This may sound like an exaggeration but we’re well on our way to our own destruction, slowly and surely. But the great thing about us humans, is that we learn from our mistakes. Efforts are being made to address these global concerns. People are becoming more aware that the little things you do everyday does have an effect – whether negatively or positively is up to them.
Every aspect of our ecosystem is important – because when one goes, the rest will follow.
Imagine this scenario… When the global temperature continues to rise, the glaciers will melt. The sea levels will rise and coastal cities will be inundated, killing millions of people. Economies will stop and will be severely burdened in trying to sustain everyone. Farms will be flooded, there will be no food.
It goes on and none of it is a pretty picture. So while we still can, let’s do our share to stop degrading our ecosystems. Our lives depend on all of us interacting in a sustainable environment.
No contribution is too small. In everything you do, think of how it’s affecting those around you.
Read more tales on our environment at The Word Counts: Stories