Day 8

Biodiversity

PARTNERS

Guayaki
Guayaki
Guayaki

OVERVIEW

“Humanity does not weave the web of life. We are merely a strand of it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.” –  Chief Seattle of the Suquamish and Duwamish Tribes in Washington State

Biological diversity, or biodiversity, describes the variety of life, encompassing ecosystems and species that function in intricate webs of interconnectivity. Not only is it the source of the food we eat and foundation for all we do on earth, biodiversity also increases the adaptability and resiliency of the natural world to face challenges such as climate change. Let’s take a look at the different levels of biodiversity!

Genetic Diversity 

The diversity of genes, our basic defining unit, determines how closely related a species or certain member in a population is to another. High genetic biodiversity allows a population to be more adaptable to environmental conditions, while low genetic diversity may lead to problems such as widespread disease.

Species Diversity
Species diversity or “species richness” is the variety and abundance of species within an environment. Each ecosystem has its own unique and proportional collection of species, depending on environmental conditions. The greater an ecosystem’s species diversity, the better it is at handling instability such as species extinction. 

Ecosystem diversity 

Ecosystem diversity is the diversity of ecosystems in a region, with each having its own producers and consumers utilizing and distributing energy derived from the sun. Higher ecosystem diversity provides more resources to the species that live there and better responses to environmental threats such as climate change. 

Here are some well known and important examples of ecosystems:

Oceans. Scientists say the number of species that live in the ocean is unknown, and 91% of species have yet to be identified. Various ocean environments allow for unique animals to thrive – with cold water ecosystems housing kelp forests and otters, and tropical island ecosystems including a larger array of coral reefs and more. Biodiversity can also appear within single organisms, such as coral reefs, which is threatened by ocean acidification, coral bleaching, and pollution, making adaptability all the more critical.

Forests. From the smallest of soil organisms to the tallest of trees, there are many diverse species living in forests. Forest biodiversity is threatened by wildfires, a growing reality on the west coast of the United States and around the world. Some forests rely on natural wildfire to maintain proper function and health, but not on the massive scale and severity we are experiencing in the present due to climate change.

Urban. Biodiversity exists everywhere! Many plants and animals have adapted to urban settings, creating ecosystems that allow fragments of the natural world to thrive even in the middle of huge cities. Do you ever think about how plants in cities, suburbs, and rural areas are pollinated? Various species of bees and butterflies pollinate 75% of flowering plants and nearly 75% of crops. However, these pollinators cannot thrive when communities and industry use toxic pesticides and herbicides, such as glyphosate.

What is happening now?

Right before our eyes, this planet is experiencing its sixth mass extinction, as dozens of species go extinct every day. A UN report estimates that 1 million species are currently at risk for extinction, a statistic accelerating at an alarming rate. As a result, 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 precipitous loss of biodiversity is caused almost entirely by human activity. Deforestation and urban expansion, spreading of invasive and non-native species, and climate change all dramatically reduce habitats and Earth’s biodiversity. Humans directly disrupt nature as well, through movement, usage and actions such as transportation, tourism, dams, and more. When diminished, ecosystems become imbalanced and are unable to function effectively, putting ourselves and other species at risk.

There are many conservation solutions being implemented to protect against the loss of biodiversity, which include preserving land, establishing more protected areas, limiting tourism, and reducing specific threats. Other solutions like water conservation, stringent protections for endangered species, and a shift away from industrial animal agriculture.

The conservation community is slowly beginning to recognize deep knowledge of indigeneous communities for potential solutions. “The knowledge of Indigenous peoples continues to provide key information to protect the resources of the Mother Earth, and to create opportunities for climate change adaptation and mitigation actions across diverse ecosystems,” per Conservation International.

If we envision a global transition from a consumptive and exploitative worldview to one that prioritizes conservation and biodiversity, we can live in harmony with all species and the Earth.

Helpful, motivated companies and organizations drive innovative work to ensure the health of our planet for future generations. Did you know that the certified organic label protects biodiversity? Our always-organic partner Nature’s Path outlines how organic farmers protect biodiversity through practices like protecting and improving soil health, maintaining diversity on the farm that respects the balance of the ecosystem, retaining wetlands and other natural areas, and collecting and preserving organic seeds. Friends of the Earth aims to eliminate pollinator-toxic pesticides and promote the shift to organic farming systems that are more beneficial for bees, butterflies, people and planet, among many other campaigns that champion biodiversity. 

Individuals (like you!) can also help combat biodiversity loss. How? By being aware of biodiversity and its importance, you are already a step ahead! Planting pollinator-friendly plants, not using pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and buying organic all directly support biodiversity. You can also shape your garden or backyard to qualify as a wildlife-certified space. What you learn throughout Project Green Challenge will surely help! By decreasing your carbon footprint and water consumption, living a low waste lifestyle, using eco-friendly products, supporting local farms, and advocating for justice, you are preserving biodiversity.

With today’s challenge, we hope you gain an understanding of the breadth and magnitude of biodiversity. And with that, rise to assume your place in finding and creating solutions to the climate crisis!

CHALLENGE

Green

20 POINTS

THINK

“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 International

 

CHALLENGE

Check out Conservation International’s video series “Nature Is Speaking” for insight into the many biomes that Earth’s species call home. 

In a short (100 word) response, share key takeaways.

Post a screenshot from one video on Instagram with a caption connecting it to #PGC2021, and tag @TurningGreenOrg and @ConservationOrg in both the impact and caption.

 

DELIVERABLES

Upload a PDF Document with your short response and a screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school.

Submission Guidelines

  • Submit all entries as PDFs; no Word or Pages documents
  • Be sure to include all content for your submission in one document
  • Save filenames using the following format: firstname_lastname_challengeday_challengelevel_year.pdf (ex: kasie_shils_day1_green_2021.pdf)
  • Do not include # or spaces in filenames
  • Do not upload a file larger than 5 MB
  • You will see a confirmation in green that your submission uploaded correctly; if you do not see this confirmation, please try again
  • If your total points does not change, your submission did not load correctly, please try again
  • Send any questions to info@turninggreen.org
  • Don’t forget to post about the challenge and your learnings/doings on social media and tag us on Instagram @TurningGreenOrg, Facebook @Turning Green, Twitter @TurningGreenOrg, and use #PGC2021
The deadline for entering this challenge has past.

Greener

40 POINTS

THINK

There is a lot to know about biodiversity. Knowledge is the first step in making change. And quality resources make it easier to get a solid sense of any massive or complex issue.

 

CHALLENGE

  • Read this article from National Geographic summarizing a recent UN biodiversity report
  • Read this piece from Friends of the Earth about how humans must change our views on biodiversity
  • Watch this video from National Geographic about saving coral reef biodiversity

Inspiring, right? Now, it’s time to put knowledge into practice!

Find a green space near you (a park, backyard, or strip of grass along the sidewalk) and observe the plants and animals you see. Count how many different ones you find within a certain area. Are there multiple types of trees or flowers? How many animals are present? How many insects? Remember that more diversity in an ecosystem makes it more sustainable and resistant to disasters and climate change!

Take a photo of each species you see, and assemble these into a collage.

Where do you fit in? Do some research and find an impactful way that you can personally help biodiversity in your area! Share your findings with us.

Upload the collage onto Instagram and provide a brief description of your observations in the caption. Make sure to tag @TurningGreenOrg and #PGC2021.

 

DELIVERABLES

Upload a PDF Document your collage, reflection and screenshot of your social media post. Include your name (or team name), username, and school.

Submission Guidelines

  • Submit all entries as PDFs; no Word or Pages documents
  • Be sure to include all content for your submission in one document
  • Save filenames using the following format: firstname_lastname_challengeday_challengelevel_year.pdf (ex: kasie_shils_day1_greener_2021.pdf)
  • Do not include # or spaces in filenames
  • Do not upload a file larger than 5 MB
  • Link to images, if possible
  • You will see a confirmation in green that your submission uploaded correctly; if you do not see this confirmation, please try again
  • If your total points does not change, your submission did not load correctly, please try again
  • Send any questions to info@turninggreen.org
  • Don’t forget to post about the challenge and your learnings/doings on social media and tag us on Instagram @TurningGreenOrg, Facebook @Turning Green, Twitter @TurningGreenOrg, and use #PGC2021
The deadline for entering this challenge has past.

Greenest

60 POINTS

THINK

Glyphosate is a toxic chemical threatening our world’s biodiversity and negatively impacting human health, and we can easily be exposed without even knowing. Countless schools, universities, and community parks use Roundup on green spaces, a weed killer made by Monsanto with glyphosate (a known carcinogen!) as the active ingredient. What can you do about this massive challenge to human and environmental health? More than you think! Let’s get started.

 

CHALLENGE

First, read articles here and here about the negative effects of glyphosate, the main ingredient in the pesticide Roundup, on the environment. In addition, read this article highlighting the disproportionate amount of glyphosate in New York City communities of color.

Then, get inspired by reading this piece about Turning Green heroes successfully banning glyphosate on the University of California campuses. And get more information about Herbicide Free Campus!

Now, craft an awareness campaign focused on educating your community on the harms of glyphosate and safer alternatives. Develop actionable steps a parks department or grounds operation office could take and how the community can get involved to make a difference.

  • Create a poster that summarizes the effects of glyphosate on biodiversity and/or human health along with a call to action. Include visuals, graphs, images and more. Be bold and creative!
  • Post it in at least three places (virtual or physical) and snap a photo or screenshot to show us.
  • Share it on Instagram with an informative caption — and tag @TurningGreenOrg, @HerbicideFreeCampus, local leadership and #PGC2021.

 

DELIVERABLES

Upload a PDF Document your response with photos and screenshots. Include your name (or team name), username, and school. And post your picture on your social media of your choice.  

Submission Guidelines

  • Submit all entries as PDFs; no Word or Pages documents
  • Be sure to include all content for your submission in one document
  • Save filenames using the following format: firstname_lastname_challengeday_challengelevel_year.pdf (ex: kasie_shils_day1_greenest_2021.pdf)
  • Do not include # or spaces in filenames
  • Do not upload a file larger than 5 MB
  • Link to images, if possible
  • You will see a confirmation in green that your submission uploaded correctly; if you do not see this confirmation, please try again
  • If your total points does not change, your submission did not load correctly, please try again
  • Send any questions to info@turninggreen.org
  • Don’t forget to post about the challenge and your learnings/doings on social media and tag us on Instagram @TurningGreenOrg, Facebook @Turning Green, Twitter @TurningGreenOrg, and use #PGC2021
The deadline for entering this challenge has past.

TODAY’S PRIZES

Up to 10 Greener and 10 Greenest outstanding submissions will be selected as winners.

Each Greener Winner will receive:

  • An assortment of organic snacks  from our partner, Nature’s Path Foods, an independent family-owned company whose mission is to leave the earth better than we found it.
  • A large bottle of soap from our partner, Dr. Bronner’s, a B Corp committed to socially and environmentally responsible practices using the purest organic and fair trade ingredients.
  • A glass spray bottle from Grove Collaborative, a B Corp who believes the products that clean our countertops, clothes, and selves shouldn’t spoil the earth or our health.
  • An organic cotton face mask from Prairie Underground.

Each Greenest Winner will receive:

  • A $75 gift card from our partner, Nature’s Path Foods, an independent family-owned company whose mission is to leave the earth better than we found it. 
  • A glass and stainless steel French Press from Grosche, a B Corp that develops safe water projects in developing countries.
  • A bag of Organic Whole Coffee Beans from Conscious Coffees, a certified B Corp that produces single origin, small batch, 100% organic, fair trade coffee beans.