Biodiversity is one of those terms. Everyone thinks they know what it means, but asked to define it, they often can only do so in the broadest, most general terms. If you don’t know what something is though, there is nothing you can do to protect it.
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, biodiversity is defined as the variety of all forms of life, from genes to species, through to the broad scale of ecosystems. The term was coined as a contraction of “biological diversity”but has acquired its own meaning.
Since 1986 the term biodiversity and the concepts it covers have achieved widespread use among scientists and civilians alike, as a shorthand term for a very grave and complicated set of issues. Its current usage merges a concern for nature conservation and the natural environment with a concern over the increasing extinction of plant and animal species. Briefly, there are three main types of biodiversity:
Genetic Diversity: Differences of genes within a species. For example this is why you might have red hair and green eyes while your best friend has brown hair and blue eyes.
Species Diversity: Differences among both plant and animal species in an ecosystem.
Ecosystem Diversity: Differences at the ecosystem level. Some areas of the planet are deserts, and some are marshes. Each has its own particular characteristics and species of flora and fauna
Biodiversity is what keeps our air and water clean. It regulates our climate and weather, and provides us with sources of food, shelter, clothing, and is the basis of most modern medicine. It improves our quality of life by creating lovely natural spaces where we can refresh ourselves by relaxing, playing, and admiring nature’s great beauty and variety.
Over the years, the biodiversity of such regions as the African rain forests have provided science with the basis for much of the medicine we take for granted. Belladonna, horse chestnuts, pineapple, and many other plants, both exotic and domestic have all played a part in maintaining our health and well-being.
A diverse population of insects for pollinationwhich helps with the growing and development of much of our foodcan be, and are, harmed by pesticides. And much of our industry (and financial well-being as a nation) is dependent on fibers, building materials, and other natural resources .
The decisions we make, both as individuals and as a nation affect the web of life all over the planet, therefore it is our responsibility to maintain and sustain biodiversity.
It is only by understanding these relationships that we can make sure our decisions will preserve Earths biodiversity for the generations that follow us.