Thursday, February 24, 2011

Saving Earth’s Biodiversity

On earth, the existing biological diversity (BD) is a consequence and manifestation of physical, chemical, geographical, environmental, climatic conditions and biological evolution. Charles Darwin’s observation on evolution of one species of birds to meet different ends is reflected in all forms of living creatures as a complex manifestation in nature. The BD is a unique perishable resource, an inter-woven web of living forms interdependent on each other for food, allowing altruism and challenge for adaptation, and survival. Life on earth offers unending plasticity to change and survive in conditions not governed by any single limiting law. There is a unique unity of life from single cell to most evolved multi-cellular forms. Life on earth is a pleasure to senses; its existence orchestrating in symphony, vibrating the earth’s air, waters and lands, through the process of evolution down the ages. The fore most threat to BD is now the Homo sapiens which happen to be the ultimate end result of the biological evolution. A role that the Homo sapiens should clearly disown, not singularly responsible for, as a responsible saviour of the planet?
While the hunter gatherer man of prehistoric times lived in unison with the mother nature, with his genes perfected and evolved from beasts through millennia to an intelligent being, all was well until the industrial age. The machines and gun added to the man’s power, the forests were ruthlessly cut and ruined, animals were massacred as they became a subject of fun and game. In the last two centuries the greed of man has multiplied, added by power of machines in last century, in the name of industrial development, and in liberalized economy of the current times in guise of estate developers turning forests and lands in concrete jungles. In process unsung workers (life forms) of the mother earth who made it livable are becoming extinct now and then.
While some forms were selectively domesticated for food, medicines and other uses and protected, the industrialization witnessed one sided growth with an exploitative end in which the biodiversity of the planet has been the worse sufferer. Species of flora and fauna have become extinct and several are on danger lists. It is not the economic ends or scientific interests that the diversity is important but the intricate interrelationship of each species in the delicate less understood balance of the earth’s ecosystem. A tiny spider looking unimportant may be an important regulator of the population of a particular species of insect which may turn out to be a great resource of useful genes?
The world is today threatened by climate change as the single most serious challenge as this could mean new challenges to cultivation, supply of now prevalent food consumption, disease patterns, new set of vector borne and infectious diseases, rampant and devastating floods, loss of coastal populations all in effect causing a chain of uncontrollable events causing demographic, sociological and complex climatic-geo-biological shifts. Are we ready to face all these changes over the next 30-50 years in this century?
The man’s quest for energy and ever increasing dependence on fossil fuels has only worsened the life on earth. The engine of development now means ever increasing exploitation of minerals, forests, fossil fuels adding more heavy metals, effluent gases, toxic materials, solid wastes etc causing multiple risks to diversity of life forms at global level. The last few decades have witnessed initiatives on conservation of environment and diversity in the form of international conventions and protocols, and national legislations by countries. The Convention of Biodiversity was a perfect beginning and rigorous compliance under this is of great necessity by all countries specially those rich in biodiversity.

As the ever increasing need for energy (from fossil fuel) is the main cause challenging the environment, and consequent climatic changes, the recent report on “100% Renewable Energy by 2050” brought out by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is a very timely document. The document enlists immense possibility to exploit the bountiful of sources of renewable energy which remain unexplored and underutilized. Dr James P.Leape, Director General, WWF, writes in the report that by “2050 we could get all energy we need from renewable sources”. The WWF report is visionary and inspiring, and it is expected that governments and businesses across the globe will boldly move on the agenda of renewable economy for sustainable future.
The quest for mars or moon as the future places for inhabitation in the wake of the earth becoming unlivable is no alternative for the common global masses in the conceivable future. Earth with a depleted fauna and flora will mean its ultimate death!

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