Why Do We Need Biodiversity?

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Biodiversity is an interesting word so commonly used that it is beginning to sound like “motherhood” and “hot apple pie”. Said another way, many people learn the word and are told that it is good. So they agree with it. But, they are not sure why. I found a short, well written explanation of why biodiversity is critically important for the survival of human beings. This explanation is so well done that I want to devote its message to an entire blog post. Below is a slightly paraphrased version of the explanation that comes from American Forests.org. The author is Douglas Tallamy.


Few people feel personally threatened by the loss of biodiversity. Here’s why you should. Biodiversity losses are a clear sign that our own life-support systems are failing. The ecosystems that support us – that determine the carrying capacity of the earth and our local spaces – are run by biodiversity.


It is biodiversity that generates oxygen and cleans water, creates topsoil out of rock, and buffers extreme weather events like droughts and floods. Biodiversity pollinates our crops, and recycles the mountains of garbage we create every day.


And now, with human-induced climate change threatening the planet, it is biodiversity that, if given half a chance, will suck that carbon out of the air and sequester it in living plants.


Humans cannot live as if they are the only species on this planet. Why? Because it is other species, within their biodiverse ecosystems, that create the ecosystem services that are so essential to our survival. Every time we force a species to extinction, we are reducing the biodiverse interconnectedness within its ecosystem. The result is that we are encouraging our own demise.


Despite the disdain with which we have treated it in the past, biodiversity is not optional. It is imperative!

My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.

6 thoughts on “Why Do We Need Biodiversity?”

    1. Thanks for your comment Kathy. The author of the message that I quoted inside the blog posting was indeed succinct. I teach an environmental education program to senior high school students. I emphasize that, by the time they are aged 50, humanity will be in serious trouble unless we engage and practice the idea of biodiversity.

  1. Hello Bill, Your article has prompted me to begin a study with my 5yr old grandaughter who loves nature and is in the higher range of gifted and talented. Think of the possibilities if she gains this knowledge.

  2. Yes, we’ll said Bill. ‘Biodiversity’ trips off the tongue easily, but it’s deeper meaning is so intrinsic to human survival that it should be a word that appears in political debate, governmental policy and permanent laws consistently to remind us that we are not alone on this planet.

    1. Hi Colette: You’ve described the problem very well. We humans are very arrogant and are convinced that we can control Nature. WE are living a very dangerous fantasy.

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