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What the Future Holds

A Reflective Essay in Biodiversity

What we do in life echoes in eternity, said Maximus from the movie Gladiator. Looking at things
from this point of view will increase our vigilance. Mistakes we make will not only haunt us in the future, but
also the generations to come. However, nothing can be done about the past. The errors of our ancestors
have come to disturb us, and the best we could do is prevent the damage brought about by these errors.
Lets look at the facts: as of last April 24, 2014, the world has already lost 80% of its forests, and
were continually losing them at a rate of 375 km 2 (Environmental Degradation Facts, 2014); as the current
rate of deforestation, 5-10% of tropical forest species will become extinct every decade (Environmental
Degradation Facts, 2014); and we are using up 50% more natural resources than the Earth can provide,
and at our current population we need 1.5 Earths (Environmental Degradation Facts, 2014). Those are just
some of the sad realities happening to our environment. And, believe it or not, we are responsible for this.
As a result, (1) we rely on a limited number of species to provide a source of food; (2) we lose
ecological sustainability; and (3) too much biodiversity is lost. Now we grasp the true consequences of our
inherited misuse of nature. Lets discuss these effects one by one.
According to Maria Neira, the Director of the World Health Organizations (WHOs) Department for
the Protection of the Human Environment, Human health is strongly linked to the health of ecosystems,
which meet many of our most critical needs. A solid proof of what might happen if we lose too much
biodiversity. We choose only a few species of animals and plants to serve as our source of food. But what
happens if, say, a foreign predator is introduced in their ecosystem? What if a disaster wipes out these
species? And worst of all, what happens if these species become extinct? Its easy to deny these
assumptions, but sooner or later we have to face the reality that these situations are possible. And we have
no backup plan, no plan B. Our present situation is too unpredictable for us to make safe predictions of
things to happen. The best course of action would be to find alternative species that may serve as our
source of food. Scientists may also try to improve the species in such a way that these species are more
adaptive to their environment.
Ecological sustainability is defined as the capacity of the biosphere to meet the needs of the
present generation, without hindering future generations from being able to meet their needs (What is
Ecological Sustainability?, 2015). As mentioned above, our current population needs 1.5 Earths to sustain
the needs of everyone. In simpler terms, the Earths population is inversely proportional to the amount of

resources in the planet. At our current rate, will there still be enough resources for the future generations? I
think not. Despite all the efforts of the self-proclaimed tree-huggers and the real environment-friendly, if not
everyone will participate, then all will be in vain. It comes down to the together we stand, divided we fall
mentality. A chosen few cannot accomplish anything. What we need is solidarity. By 2030, I expect the
world to be in a worse state. Its easy to hope for a better tomorrow, but then again hope is a dangerous
thing. We keep choosing to jeopardize our future in order for us to maintain stability in the present. Thats
the problem.
Another after effect of environmental destruction is the loss of biodiversity. For instance, grassland
field experiments both in North America and across eight different European sites, ranging from Greece in
the south and east to Portugal and Ireland in the west and Sweden in the north, have shown that each
halving of the number of plant species within a plot leads to a 1020% loss of productivity (Tillman, 2000). A
10-20% productivity loss may seem small to some, but in a global scale this percentage is big enough.
What if this happens in rice fields, corn fields, or other sites of food production? Greater diversity leads to
greater productivity in plant communities, greater nutrient retention in ecosystems and greater ecosystem
stability (Tillman, 2000). Therefore, with the loss of biodiversity, all of these effects of greater diversity will
be lessened. Imagine how it would affect everyone. With less species, we will be dependent on a limited
number of species that will serve as our food source. But with the unpredictable effects of ecological
imbalance, these species may become extinct. The natural processes in the ecosystem will also be
affected. In simpler terms, loss of biodiversity will drastically affect our planet and our future, in a negative
Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done, said Robert A. Heinlein. Trying to prevent
the adverse effects of environmental destruction, as well as trying to save planet Earth are not small feats.
But that doesnt mean that it cant no cross that shouldnt be done. The sheer determination of
humankind is enough to overcome this obstacle. To me, nothing is more powerful than the will to survive.

Environmental Degradation Facts. (2014, April 24). Retrieved from The World Counts:
Tillman, D. (2000, May 11). Causes, consequences and ethics of biodiversity. Nature, pp. 208 - 211.
What is Ecological Sustainability? (2015). Retrieved from Skwirk: