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“We’ve decimated our forests, wildlands, polluted and overfished our rivers and oceans; all the key ecosystems that not only serve as a home to our planet’s biodiversity, but also make life here for us possible.” ~ Leonardo DeCaprio, Actor & Environmentalist
Today’s theme, biodiversity brings together everything you have learned over the past 23 days. And if you are really intentional about applying that wisdom, the impact you and we can all have together is pretty massive. There’s a lot to learn and to implement if our job is to save the planet! As you make your way down the page today, click on as many of the links as you can.
In addition to each of us having a major role in the outcomes of our future, businesses and organizations also have an enormous responsibility in this massive task. We want to celebrate the incredible and innovative work being done by today’s partner’s to ensure the health of our planet for future generations.
Annie’s works to cultivate a healthier and happier world by spreading goodness through nourishing foods, honest words and conduct that is considerate and forever kind to the planet. “We grow more organic acres enhancing soil, water and biodiversity.”
Rainforest Alliance stands for biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods. “If we really look into nature for answers, we will have great success.” Take a look at this short film to see the people all over the world saving the planet.
Conservation International protects the nature we all rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. “Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature. Our food, our water, our health, our jobs – they all rely on the health of the planet’s ecosystems.” ~ Conservation.org
Biological diversity, or biodiversity for short describes the grand variety of all life; it encompasses the diversity within ecosystems and species. It is the source of all the food we eat and the foundation for everything we do on Earth. Biodiversity also aids the adaptability and resilience of ecosystems to challenges, such as climate change.
Read this article “What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?”
On a small scale, you can see biodiversity within a single ecosystem, like a creek, a community garden, or even your body. There are three levels of biodiversity: biodiversity in ecosystems, biodiversity in species, and biodiversity in genetics.
Biodiversity in ecosystems is the variety of habitats across our globe that include deserts, forests, grasslands, and marine environments. An example of ecosystem biodiversity would be the forests in Northern California, (the ones that have experienced the largest state fire in history) compared to the forests in New Hampshire. From the types of trees, to the animals in the forests, to the quantity of rainfall – each ecosystem is unique. Not only do these differences in habitats make each continent or country interesting to visit, but they also keep our planet in balance and resilient to the threat of climate change and environmental pollution.
Biodiversity in species refers to the variety of species within an ecosystem. Example of tree species would be: redwoods, oaks, willows, evergreens, and palm trees. This variety helps ecosystems adjust to disturbances like extreme weather. It is important to have many different species of predators, prey, and plants within an ecosystem to keep it in balance and supporting each other in the circle of life.
Biodiversity in genetics means that within a species, there are many different traits or genetics. This keeps a species adapting, evolving, and preventing it from going extinct. The common practice of monoculture crops put food sources like bananas at a higher risk of dying out. Monoculture is a cultivation of a single crop in a given area, significantly reducing the genetic variety. This practice makes crops much more vulnerable to disease. The natural alternative is polyculture, which is when more than one crop is grown in the same space at the same time. Practices like this create genetic abundance and benefit people and planet. Without a variety of genes and species in a crop area, the species ability to protect themselves from predators is greatly reduced. Species and their intricate relationships to ecosystems is literally what shapes our world.
But, at this moment in time, right before our eyes, our planet is experiencing its sixth mass extinction. Dozens of species are going extinct every day. Global biodiversity has declined 50% in the past 40 years. We have lost half of all species on earth in a geological blink of an eye.
Why is this mass extinction happening? Unlike previous mass extinctions, the current massive loss of biodiversity is caused almost entirely by human activity. Habitat loss due to deforestation and urban expansion; spreading of invasive and non-native species; and climate change all dramatically reduce the Earth’s biodiversity. When biodiversity is diminished, ecosystems become imbalanced and can no longer function as effectively, putting all of our lives at risk. As we take more from nature than nature can give, we weaken the Earth’s ability to provide the clean air, fresh water, and food we all depend on. ~ (Conservation International)
In the Conservation International film Under the Canopy, the narrator shares that his forest provides clean air for the world and provides everything his family needs; food, water, medicine, materials to build our homes. The forest provides for everyone. We can only save it together.”
Today, our hope is that you complete this challenge with an understanding of the breadth and magnitude of biodiversity. And with that, your place as a human to find and create solutions to the greatest crisis of our time.
We are going to start our conversation with one population that our biodiversity crisis has tremendously impacted – one of the most vital organisms on the planet, pollinators; bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bats. They transfer pollen from one plant to another, allowing plants – including the fruits and vegetables we eat daily – to reproduce and thrive. Bees and other pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat.
And, the U.N. estimates that 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species are on the brink of extinction.
Did you know that 16 oz of honey requires 1,152 honeybees to travel 112,000 miles and visit 4.5 million flowers? This is typical work for a pollinator, yet we take their role in our ecosystems for granted. Let’s consider the role of pollinators in our lives.
Bee pollination contributes significantly to world food production, adding more than $15 billion to the US economy and over $217 billion to global economies. Yet bees are dying at an alarming rate. Between 2014 and 2015, beekeepers lost 42.1% of their hives. What’s causing these important insects to die off? A growing body of scientific evidence links pollinator declines to pesticide use, particularly a group of insecticides called neonicotinoids or neonics. A recent study found that over 75% of global honey samples contain neonics and half of samples contain a cocktail of chemicals. These pesticides can make it harder for bees to reproduce. To protect the health of our environment and all its inhabitants, we must re-examine and eliminate the widespread use of pesticides and fertilizers.
Luckily, there are individuals and organizations dedicated to protecting pollinators. For example, Friends of the Earth is working to #savethebees by actively petitioning big businesses to cease the use of these toxic chemicals. They’ve already been successful in getting more than 135 retailers, including Home Depot and Lowe’s (the two largest garden retailers in the U.S) to take steps to eliminate the use of neonics from plants and off-the-shelf products.eliminate the use of neonics from plants and off-the-shelf products.
We can all be part of the solution to the pollinator crisis by eliminating the use of pesticides, growing native plants, and getting involved politically in our communities.
Upload a PDF Document your response and screenshot. Include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school. And post your picture on your social media of your choice.
There is a lot to know about biodiversity – and that knowledge is the first step to making change.
Upload a PDF Document with your response. Include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.
What we are observing real time across our planet through climate change, loss of species, natural disasters, human and urban encroachment, destruction of biodiversity … is hard to handle on a daily basis. But what we can each do to be active global citizens is to make choices that protect our environments and ultimately ensure the health of our planet.
So how do we become effective changemakers on our campuses and local communities. We start with observation – paying attention in ways that maybe we haven’t in the past.
Share your call to action on social media and tag Tag @TurningGreenOrg, @annieshomegrown, @ConservationOrg, @RnfrstAlliance and use the hashtag #PGC2018.
Upload a PDF Document with your call to action and any photos and a screen shot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, email address, and school.