Did you know that 2010 is the Year of Biodiversity? Do you know what biodiversity is? Biodiversity is the variety of genes, species, and ecosystems on the planet, and it is disappearing faster that at any time since the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Let's have a think about why this matters.
I can't help thinking first of mammals - polar bears, threatened by climate change; great apes driven from their homes by forest clearance for timber and palm oil plantations or the 30-40 Amur leopards left in the wild, because of habitat destruction and poaching for their beautiful coat.
We also depend on biodiversity for our food - and we expect nature to provide us with a free lunch. The UN Environmental Programme estimated that the pollination of crops by honey bees alone is worth US$2-8 billion. And biodiversity also serves as our medicine cabinet. More than half of commonly prescribed drugs are derived from natural products while 60% of people in developing countries rely on traditional medicines for their health care.
But even if we didn't need the fantastic variety in nature to survive, would it still matter? Many people of faith and none would still say that it did. Ask any child whether it matters if furry mammals become extinct and you will get a very definite "yes!" Is this ignorance or is it innate wisdom unspoiled by our materialistic view of the world where everything is measured by its monetary value?
Whatever your reasons for doing so, here's some things to do to play a small part in caring for biodiversity:
1. Go for a walk, sit in the garden, be aware of the beauty and diversity of nature in our own neighbourhood.
2. Join a wildlife organisation - or better, severa l and set aside time to campaign on some wildlife issue.
3. Eat less meat and dairy. The Amazon is being cut down to grow Soya to export to feed out cattle, and thus produce our milk.
4. Buy "Rainforest Certified" and "Fair Trade" products and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) timber, and make an issue of choosing these products.
5. If you have savings in stocks and shares type ISAs make sure they are not being invested in industries that are destroying habitats.