One of the most difficult tasks confronting humanity is figuring out how to feed our rising population while preserving biodiversity and environmental services. Conversion of natural lands to agricultural use is the major driver of worldwide forest loss. Natural grassland regions are in considerably greater jeopardy (24). Deforestation and soil degradation are also significant problems in many developing country, especially in Asia, where expansion of agriculture has been greatly aided by deforestation.
Another challenge is understanding how to communicate environmental issues in a way that non-scientists will understand. Some scientists attempt this by writing popular books or using social media, but these can be hard tasks to accomplish effectively without bias. Scientists need to be aware of their own biases when writing about topics outside of their area of expertise.
Finally, we need to stop cutting down trees! The only viable solution to these challenges is not to cut them down in the first place. Preventing deforestation would go a long way toward alleviating some of the world's food shortages.
Human activity is causing extraordinary changes in the natural environments on which wildlife depends, making habitat loss possibly the biggest danger to the world's biodiversity. Human populations are growing faster than the ability of nature to create new habitat, and this leads to the extinction of rare species and even entire ecosystems. The accelerating rate of extinction is a major concern for conservationists.
Another threat to biodiversity comes from humans changing how they use animals and their products. The trade in animal parts, such as elephants tusks or rhino horns, or animal products, such as bear bile for making medicine, results in many deaths in order to satisfy people's demand for these products. This practice, known as "carnism", is one of the main factors behind the decline of many mammal species. Carnism also has had a negative impact on biodiversity through the introduction of invasive species - for example, cats have been introduced into islands to control the population of native birds - or the replacement of one carnivorous species with another more suitable for farming - for example, farmers introduced wolf packs into Italy to control the number of deer.
Carnivores play an important role in controlling pests that can affect crops and livestock.
Humans have the potential to devastate natural environments when they harvest resources and urbanize locations. This is harmful because it displaces existing species, diminishing available habitats and food supplies. This can have a detrimental impact on an ecosystem because imported species can outcompete and replace native creatures. The more industrialized a region becomes, the more likely it is that its environment will be damaged by humans.
Another way humans affect their ecosystems is through pollution. Pollutants can have many effects on an ecosystem, from killing off rare plants and animals to changing the physical characteristics of a location. Waste products from human activities are called "man-made" pollutants. The two most important man-made substances in relation to ecology are carbon dioxide and ozone. Carbon dioxide is a natural part of Earth's atmosphere, but it levels off after hundreds of thousands of years without any additional carbon dioxide emissions. Ozone is also naturally occurring but our activities increase its concentration in the atmosphere at a rate of 5-10% per decade. Other types of pollution include toxic chemicals, radioactive materials, and noise.
People also influence their environment by altering its natural conditions. For example, humans change the landscape by constructing buildings, roads, and other infrastructure. This removal of natural vegetation allows more light into areas that would otherwise be exposed during droughts or heavy rains. It also changes the temperature of locations where building work isn't done properly.
The major cause of biodiversity loss may be linked to human impact on the world's ecology. Indeed, humans have profoundly impacted the environment and transformed the territory, directly exploiting species, for example, by fishing and hunting, altering biogeochemical cycles, and...
Ecosystem loss can be caused by direct exploitation or destruction of the habitat, but also includes changes to the ecological balance between predator and prey, as well as the introduction of new species that cannot co-exist with existing ones. Ecosystem loss has many negative effects for people and other organisms, including reduced food sources, increased risk of disease, and loss of cultural identity.
Humans are causing the extinction of species through overhunting, deforestation, soil degradation and pollution. The amount of habitat lost since the beginning of the industrial era is estimated at about 50% of the original forest cover. About 1 million animal species are threatened with extinction, with the majority being insects and birds. Humans are responsible for this extinction rate by killing off endangered animals for their skins, bones, meat and eggs, which are then used for clothing, equipment, food and chemicals.
Climate change is another factor contributing to the extinction of species. As climate changes, so too will their habitats, forcing many species to move in order to find suitable living conditions. This migration may be successful for some species, but not all are able to adapt fast enough to keep up with changing circumstances.
Various human activities pose a threat to this equilibrium and the destruction of the world's ecosystems.