Population Matters

Global biodiversity and population

Global biodiversity and population

Biodiversity is the sum of all plants, animals and microorganisms as well as their phenotypic and genotypic variation, along with the ecosystems of which they are a part. Biodiversity is the fundamental regulator of climate, energy, food, nutrients and water.

As the human footprint on the earth has expanded, the earth’s biodiversity has continuously declined.

The Millennium Ecosystems Assessment (2005) states: “Changes in biodiversity due to human activity have been more rapid in the last 50 years than at any time in human history.”

The Kemp's ridley sea turtle: just one example of a species that is critically endangered due to human activity
The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle: just one example of a species that is now critically endangered due to hunting, habitat loss, pollution and entanglement in shrimping nets

It highlights that there is a 40 per cent decline in average species abundance, a 50 per cent decline in inland water species, and a 30 per cent decline in the population of marine and terrestrial species.

In this briefing, we report on, and discuss, the recent changes in the global biodiversity associated with the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem, the importance of genetic biodiversity, and the role of human population growth on these biodiversity systems.

The rapid reduction of tropical forests has threatened hundreds of plant and animal species with extinction.

The loss in aquatic biodiversity has resulted in a 40 per cent decline in the population of amphibians and a 20 per cent decline in freshwater fish. Housing and commercial construction along river banks has eroded the soil, polluted the water and fragmented the aquatic habitat.

Due to such anthropogenic alterations in the environment, there is a loss, not only of species but also of their genetic component that is crucial for diversity and has important uses for mankind.

Population Matters asserts that the relentless increase in the human population is primarily responsible for this decline in biodiversity, through the increased need for food and space, and higher per-capita consumption.

We conclude that, if human population continues to grow at the same rate, the depletion of biodiversity will continue unabated.

Population Matters believes that action to promote a reduction in, and reversal of, human population growth is necessary for us to maintain biodiversity in order to secure a sustainable future.

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