What on Earth is Biodiversity

One million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction. The problem is: Without this "biodiversity", humans are in trouble. Biodiversity is the term used to describe the variety of all life on Earth. Earth's species, their characteristics, even their habitats ... ... are what maintain the health and resilience of nature. The more biodiversity, the more "secure" all life is — including ours. Biodiversity is the foundation of all the life on Earth. So we need biodiversity in the form of pollinators. to keep our crops growing and to produce the food that we need. We need biodiversity to produce all the medicines that we are needing. And we need biodiversity to keep healthy ecosystems to sequester the carbon that we need to combat climate change. In the last fifty years, humans have wiped out 68% of animal populations. Experts say that the planet is undergoing its sixth mass extinction. The biggest die-off of life on Earth since the giant meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs? If that doesn't scare you, consider this. Biodiversity provides everything humanity needs — for free. If we were to put a number on it, the value of goods and services provided by biodiversity is estimated to amount to $125 trillion per year. That's more than two-thirds of global GDP. The continued loss of biodiversity affects the food we eat, the water we drink, to say nothing of our economy. Floods, fires, disease outbreaks — all have connections to biodiversity loss. Why can't we stop this? As long as we disturb wild animals and their ecosystems, these viruses will continue jumping into us and causing trouble. Conservationists say that protecting at least 30 percent of land and 30% of sea on Earth by 2030 is critical for stopping — and reversing — the loss of species around the globe. The good news is that there's a whole suite of tools that we can implement. It's not just about creating national parks and protected areas. — although, that is important. It's also about integrating the economic value of everything nature gives us into all of our decisions. And its about partnering with local and Indigenous communities. Up to 80% of all plant and animal species and 17% of carbon stored in the world's forests is on Indigenous lands. So it's essential that the lands and rights of Indigenous peoples are recognized if we want to save the planet and all of us that call it home. There is hope! We've seen humpback whales recover thanks to an international conservation agreement. We've seen giant pandas recover thanks to restoration of bamboo forests. And we've seen gray wolves recover thanks to federal protections in the U.S. We know nature has an astonishing capacity to rebound. But avoiding future loss of biodiversity isn't enough. We all need to give nature the chance it needs to recover for humanity's sake.