A recent scientific Review in 2016 established that nearly half of all existing habitats are threatened. Actually, the majority of them are listed by IUCN as either threatened or vulnerable. The fundamental query that every ecologically-conscious individual should probe is; how did we as a people reach this level of destruction? While still on this probe, a further rider would be, how have humans impacted the ecosystems through the keystone processes? The answers to these questions would probably lead us to an agreeable response that indeed our ecosystems have deteriorated and humans are largely to blame. The habitats are invariably shrinking and the rate at which we are losing the vulnerable yet critical ecological points such as coral reefs, wetlands, estuaries and rain rainforests is unprecedented. It should be noted that it is these habitats that contribute to the whole of environmental integrity and their isolated destruction jeopardizes the entire set of life.
An ecosystem is described as 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. Just like in a human community, in an ecosystem, each organism has its role and purpose. Disturbing the balance of an ecosystem can be disastrous (and always is) for all the living things relying on it. An example of an ecosystem are Coral Reefs but there are much smaller ecosystems. Each ecosystem differs in size and components, but the important thing to remember is that no matter the size, it’s a symbiotic community. This earth as a whole is also considered as an ecosystem but on a much larger scale. In the same manner, when too much external factors are introduced 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, pollution, etc. These impacts every living thing on the planet, which includes both the living and the non-living.
The ecosystem destruction is already happening and almost all ecosystems are affected in one way or another. For instance, 25% of all coral reefs have already disappeared and in 30 years’ time, 60% more is estimated to be gone; this is due to the ocean acidification, illegal fishing, and excessive water pollution. Equally, deforestation is caused by illegal logging plus the incessant human need for progress. To date, records indicate that close to 4.6 million hectares of forest have succumbed to deforestation. Now the begging question would be, how many species have disappeared in this destruction?
Habitat loss is endangering the remaining species on a daily basis. Even the apex predators are not being spared either.. The lions in Africa, tigers, mountain gorillas, elephants among others are being threatened by habitat loss. The threat of becoming homeless for these animals is real. The Protected Areas are being encroached upon and the quality of conservation in most protected areas is wanting.
Statistics indicate that humans are extracting resources at a rate that would need at least “two earths” in order to sustain the needs; unfortunately, we only have one. Humans are building roads every day, hunting animals every evening, cutting down trees and destroying forest lands every often and toxic wastes from the toxic processes are being disposed of in our habitats; the end result is a destitute planet. However, an avenue to correct such unsustainable patterns can be pursued such as utilizing sustainable energy, enhancing conservation activities on the planet and reducing extraction through increased recycling activities.
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