One can't help but notice a headline like that: "Humans spur worst extinctions since dinosaurs" - it might even bring one out of a blogging hiatus. You can read the full U.N. report in various languages, but the summary is that, "[i]n effect, we are currently responsible for the sixth major extinction event in the history of earth." We? Who, me? Wowsers. Considering how brief a time humans have been around in that earth history, we should be pretty proud of ourselves to make such a blip on the ole' radar! Hoo-hah.
But really, why does biodiversity matter?
To put it ever so briefly: think of the earth's ecosystem as a tall brick building, and each brick represents a species of living thing on the planet. We humans live in the penthouse, and we're living large. Every time we want to make the penthouse a little bigger or nicer, or repair the existing walls, we have to go down to the lower floors of the building, pull out a few bricks, and haul them upstairs for our use. Just like Jenga, a few bricks here and there doesn't hurt anything; the building is surprisingly resilient. But after a while, if we don't put any bricks back, and enough of them disappear, the whole thing comes crumbling down. (I'll leave it to you to picture what that might look like for your own way of life, but we're not just talking power outages and hurricanes, here.)
What to do? Yikes - that's beyond the scope of this lunchtime blog post. But I'll skip straight to the recommendations the U.N. has for us: "Individuals have a role and must: demand action from governments, and be aware of the impact that their choices and consumption patterns have on the environment." If you're interested in that sort of thing (you know, not totally messing up the planet), you might consider joining the Cope Environmental Center for their energy efficiency workshops this coming weekend. Not a solution, just one place to start, one piece of the puzzle.