Qualicum Institute: Advocating a science-based understanding of ecological, social and economic survivability

Humanity is completely dependent on what nature can provide

Humanity depends on ecosystem services

Humanity depends on the natural ecosystems of the earth and the ecosystem services they provide if we truly want to become a sustainable civilization. Ecosystems are the source of our social well-being, our wealth, and our economy.

Humanity depends on the natural ecosystems of the Earth
Ecosystem services are global services provided by the diversity of the world’s ecosystems as they function in their natural state.1 Humanity depends upon the provision of raw materials for input to the economy, the pollination of myriads of plants including many of our crops, the regulation of the global climate, and the decomposition and assimilation of every creature’s waste products—including the wastes generated by humanity. Ecosystems—when healthy with high biodiversity—can buffer us from extreme storm, flood, and drought events. They move store and purify the global water supply. And they provide wildlife refugia—habitat for the diversity of organisms on the planet.

But it isn’t just a one-way street. The diversity of organisms that lives within each ecosystem is integral to the functioning of that ecosystem and the provision of those life-supporting services. Thus, it is the biodiversity of organisms working synergistically within the biosphere upon which humanity depends, indeed on which all life depends.2

In a recent review of the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning, ecologists were certain that high biodiversity ensures a stable supply of ecosystem goods and services as spatial and temporal variability increases.3 This fact has become more significant as the effects imposed by climate change continue to affect these systems. Ecosystems with a high biodiversity will better be able to adapt to and buffer us from these increasing effects, something we may want to keep in mind as we continue our assault on the biodiversity of the planet.

The World Health Organization, in their contribution to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment4, conclude that “Ecosystem services are indispensable to the well-being and health of people everywhere.” As an example, they point out that “Disturbance or degradation of ecosystems can have biological effects that are highly relevant to infectious disease transmission.”

Nearly 75% of new infectious diseases are zoonotic in origin—they existed naturally in animals before spilling over to other species, including humans. Examples include AIDS, SARS, MERS, Nipah Virus, Avian influenza, Ebola virus disease and Influenza A virus subtype H1N1 disease, as well as COVID-19.5

Humanity depends on ecosystem services, whichHumanity depends on biodiversity supply all the necessities of life (and all our luxuries)! They are the foundation on which sustainability stands. They are the source of the economy and our social well-being.

This means we must “work to protect life and our planet, understanding that we are part of the same chain that connects bacteria to whales. If our knowledge makes us strong, we remain fragile when confronting nature’s power. If we plan to remain here for a few more thousands of years, the only option we have is to treat Earth with humility and respect.”6

Next “There are limits to what Nature can provide” or Return to Tenets.

Stop ecological overshoot caused by economic growth

Scroll to Top