Human activities are responsible for most of the loss in biodiversity throughout the world. With an increasing population, we are consuming more and more natural resources.. We do this by driving more, using more energy in our homes, and buying many more products than we need.
This doesn’t mean that all Canadians live this way though. Many people work very hard to make changes to their lifestyles that lessen their impact on the environment, which also helps preserve biodiversity.
Biodiversity is important since it provides us with raw materials that we use to make products such as clothes, shoes and paper. And although we use many natural products and materials in our daily lives, we also use many human-made chemicals--cleaners, fertilizers, bug spray, pesticides, and many others. Even though we use them to help us, they have many side effects. Toxins and pollution are very harmful to biodiversity. The chemicals that we use end up in our waterways. Plants and animals are killed by oil spills. Wildlife gets caught in plastic trash. You get the idea!
There are many things that you can do to help. Start by asking yourself a few questions about what you buy. Do you really need the item or just want it? Is the product made using environment-friendly materials and processes? How far does the product have to travel to get to me? What is the social and environmental reputation of the company that makes the product? Is the product able to disposed of in a manner that doesn’t negatively impact the environment?
In the end it is up to us to make informed choices in our daily lives. Learn more!
Cultures developed in part because people adapted to the environment where they lived. This resulted in different languages, traditions, customs, knowledge and beliefs that have been passed down through generations.
The environment influenced the development of cultures, and similarly our cultures influenced the makeup of the local environment. For example, food is an important part of culture. This affects the crops people grow, animals that they raise or hunt and the waste products that they send back into the environment.
Throughout history, biodiversity has been very important in inspiring many cultural traditions. This can be seen in the music, ceremonies, holidays, mythology and decorations used by different cultures around the world. Protecting biodiversity helps preserve many of these cultural traditions. Protecting cultural traditions helps protect the natural biodiversity of the land the culture needs for survival.
Many species from around the world are threatened because of over-exploitation. This is when our use of that species or resource renders it near extinction.
Over-harvesting is a big problem with many of our natural resources. The harvesting of forests and the extraction of oil and gas are examples of non-renewable resources whose over-use has severely impacted local environments and biodiversity.
Over-exploitation is also a large problem for wildlife. Fish are a very good example of this. Every year over 80 million fish are caught for human consumption. Sometimes the way that the fishing is done destroys marine habitats and catches many other marine animals by accident. These practices cause marine populations to shrink.
Species trade is a very big problem in many countries. Thousands of plants and animals are taken from their natural habitats every day to be sold, traded or made into various products, including gifts (ivory from elephant tusks, coral, sea turtle shells and reptile skins are popular souvenirs that threaten species). Other products, like traditional Chinese medicines, can also be made using threatened and endangered animals. For example, tiger bone was often used to help relieve swelling and pain.
Animals are often traded as well. But it’s not just the large animals that are trapped and traded. Insects like butterflies are also illegally traded.