Unbeknownst to many, 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. This is the year in which we as a species are meant to come together and cherish the diversity of life on this planet. We should unify over the common aim of preventing further biodiversity loss, realise how precious biodiversity is and how costly further loss will be.
Personally I have felt that this glorious year of change has passed me by somewhat. The Convention of Biological Diversity’s 2010 biodiversity targets, set in 2002, have not been met and pollution, overfishing and deforestation, to name a few, are as rampant as ever. In fact in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, 2010 may well be remembered by many as a year of environmental calamity.
Perhaps what we are really celebrating is the raising of awareness of these issues. Our screens are filled with nature programs, politicians seem to be finally acknowledging the important of the environment and organisations such as the Wildlife Trust and the RSPB are doing their upmost to reach out to the British public. Even Edward Norton is involved (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwbnElGXg2I). As a biology student, however, there seems a distinct difference between awareness and action (woefully seen in the Copenhagen conference earlier this year).
Despite my pessimism, many people may look out of their window and see that the sun is shining, the birds are singing and plants everywhere are displaying to us in their full glory. Even those pesky insects are still around. What is all the fuss really about?
Although it may be difficult to see, our planet is experiencing phenomenal rates of climatic change and species extinction, spurred on, it seems, by human activity. These events are occurring at such a rate that we are forging our own geological era, known as the Anthropocene, or human era. But why is this important to us? So there are a few less species, so what?
The aim of this blog is to answer some of these questions; to look at what biodiversity is and why it is important, to see how we are causing species extinctions and the impact this has, and perhaps most importantly to consider how we can stop this trend and conserve the diversity of life on this planet. I will endeavour to show you what conservation is really about, that it consists not simply of a bunch of hippies chained to trees, but of hundreds of highly trained scientists working together to try and save the gift of biodiversity.