Our global ecosystem is an intricate design that we are yet to completely understand. Biodiversity is one of the many wonders of our world; the variety and variability of life on Earth. However, global biodiversity is reducing rapidly. Species are disappearing faster than expected.
At a natural rate, we expect to lose eight species every 100 years. But a study by international researchers led by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) revealed that in the past century, we’ve lost 500 species. Their biggest threat? Human activity.
The main challenges to biodiversity are population growth, pollution, consumption of resources, and climate change. As the human population grows, we flatten out forests and sand fill water-logged areas to make new homes. Deforestation drives out animals, including birds, which eventually die without the protection of their natural habitat.
These activities also affect the fauna and flora in sand-filled areas. We can map out the impact of our activities in different ways to reach the same conclusion; we are destroying the biodiversity of our planet.
Our seemingly insignificant activities will eventually cause irreversible damages to our ecosystem if we do not make changes. As David Suzuki said,
Suzuki is one of the well-known environmental activists from Canada. His PhD in zoology from the University of Chicago makes Suzuki an authority on the topic of biodiversity. He is popular for criticizing governments on their lack of action to protect the environment. He appeared as the host of The Nature of Things, a show for making science talk more understandable to the everyday person, which first aired in 1979 on CBC TV.
Suzuki supports the fight against climate change and he co-founded the David Suzuki Foundation which prioritises oceans and sustainable fishing.
Here are some other biodiversity quotes to remind ourselves of the need for immediate change.
Johan Rockström is a professor of environmental science with an emphasis on water resources and global sustainability. Johan studied and completed his PhD at Stockholm University. He spent two decades working on and researching the water of tropical regions, ecosystems and agricultural systems.
Rockström has published over 100 articles and 20 book chapters around the issue of biodiversity. He has delivered two TED talks where he tackled environmental issues and spoke on how to become responsible stewards of the planet.
Called the father of biodiversity and sociobiology, Edward Osborne Wilson is an American biologist, naturalist and writer. He studied at the University of Alabama earning a bachelors and masters degree in biology. Thereafter he enrolled at Harvard University. Many refer to Wilson as the world’s leading expert on the study of ants, myrmecology.
One of E.O. Wilson’s greatest contributions to ecological theory is that of island biogeography. This is a study that examines the factors that affect the species richness and diversification of isolated natural communities.
John Lithgow is an American actor best known for his role as Dick Solomon in 3rd Rock from the Sun (amazon) which aired from 1996 to 2001. John graduated magna cum laude in history and literature from Harvard College and went on to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
This biodiversity quote from Lithgow reminds us that our activities may not seem to have an immediate effect on the environment, but the changes are happening. A thriving planet should be one of the things we leave for the coming generations.
Johannes Kepler was a German astronomer, mathematician and astrologer that lived in the 15th century. He was a maths teacher at a seminary school in Graz. Kepler wrote several books around the topics of astronomy and astrology. These books formed the basis of Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity. Johannes studied astrology and astronomy and from this study and his findings penned three scientific laws that describe the motion of planets around the sun.
Donella H. “Dana” Meadows is an environmental scientist, teacher and writer. Meadows earned a degree in chemistry from Carleton College and a PhD in biophysics from Harvard. She is a lead author of The Limits to Growth and Thinking in Systems: a Primer (amazon). Meadows also founded the Sustainability Institute, now known as The Academy for Systems Change.
The institute combines research practical demonstrations of sustainable living and global systems. The institute also developed an organic farm and an ecovillage, which strives to leave the least negative impact on the natural environment. With this biodiversity quote, Meadows takes a stand on the controversial topic of preservation parks versus leaving animals in the wild.
Stella McCartney is a British fashion designer who uses her platform to support and fight for animal rights. The brand uses vegetarian or animal-free alternatives. No fur or leather is used in any of their designs. McCartney also has a skincare range which is 100% organic, named CARE.
In 2018, McCartney launched a foundation dedicated to breast cancer. She also collaborates with the UN on a new fashion industry charter that will assist fashion companies to welcome sustainable business practices.
David Chang is an American environmentalist working as the Environmental Health Coordinator at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. David earned a bachelors in biology and environmental studies at the University of California. He then completed his masters in Environmental Conservation Education at New York University.
Chang also compiles educational material for an environmental health program at WE ACT. With this biodiversity quote, Chang suggests that humans would be more conscious of our impact on biodiversity once we start to take more responsibility.
Many recognize Greg Graffin as the lead vocalist and songwriter of the punk rock band, Bad Religion. A lesser-known fact is that Greg Graffin earned his PhD in zoology at Cornell University. He also gives lectures at his alma mater, the University of California, and other institutions.
Graffin has authored books such as The Population Wars (amazon) wherein he addresses zoology, biology and sociology. Greg, in another book, goes “What I’m trying to say is ‘Hold it a minute. There’s as much reason to believe that coexistence depends on cooperation and assimilation of populations’.”
Louise Ottilie Fresco is a scientist and author from the Netherlands. She is also a professor and the President of the Wageningen University & Research Executive Board. Fresco has delivered a TED talk named “We need to feed the whole world”. In this talk, she speaks about the responsibility we have to empower the food industry to move into more sustainable food production, with less pollution.
This biodiversity quote reveals that Fresco is confident in the human population’s ability to protect biodiversity through the agency of food production.
Frans Lanting earned his masters in economics at the University of Rotterdam before studying environmental planning in the US. From there, he went on to become a National Geographic photographer-in-residence. Lanting is the ambassador of the World Wide Fund for Nature and it is his mission to help the fight for conservation through his photography.
One of Frans’ projects, “Into Africa” (amazon), presents Africa’s primaeval natural heritage as well as what is at stake with the rise of technology. Lanting worked in Madagascar which shone a light on the island’s environmental problems, he also brought attention to the wildlife and conservation policies of Botswana.
In 2018, the Lifetime Achievement Award honoured Lanting as the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Ackerman's curiosity of the natural world and her poetic explorations make her a popular poet and essayist. Ackerman earned a PhD from Cornell University and has written research essays about several species, these essays have appeared in National Geographic, Smithsonian and The New York Time, to name a few. In Diane’s book The Human Age (amazon), she explores the ways that humans are shaping the world and argues her belief that human innovation can save the planet.
While the threat to biodiversity is a looming problem, there are clear solutions available. The first step would be getting people to listen. As humans become better informed, we would have a better understanding of why our activities need change. Sustainable practices and general respect for other lifeforms can make a world of difference in protecting every fauna, flora, and other organisms that share this planet with us.