Utne Blogs > Environment

Why Humans Need Biodiversity

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Environment, biodivesity, ecology, humans, Miller-McCune,

Animal MonocultureFor thousands of years, humans have been trading biodiversity for homogeny: Diverse forests for monoculture tree farms, grasslands for agriculture, and oceans for fish farms. This process is simply unsustainable, ecology professor Shahid Naeem writes for Miller-McCune. The drive to domesticate the earth creates an existential crisis for humans, according to Naeem, because “All aspects of human well-being and prosperity trace back to biodiversity for their foundation.”

The natural functions of the earth are based on biodiversity. Naeem writes about a study he was involved in proving that “More diversity led to greater absorption of carbon dioxide.” Even knowing this, biodiversity loss continues to be “the single most prevalent feature of our changing world.”

Species extinction is just one part of the problem, though a significant one. Rounding up wildlife into reserves and domesticating plants and animals also diminishes the earth’s diversity. “Even without the loss of a single species, with increasing homogenization biodiversity declines.”

In order to create a more sustainable ecosystem, humans need to take responsibility for creating a more equitable one, according to Naeem. Rather than the more Judeo-Christian system of human dominion over the animals, people need to think of themselves as a necessary part of the earth’s biodiversity, and they need work to keep it that way.

Image by Cindy Sims Parr, licensed under Creative Commons.

Source: Miller-McCune