Tenet 2

Humanity is completely dependent
upon what Nature can provide

We have to understand that we are totally dependent on the natural ecosystems of the earth and the ecosystem services they provide if we truly want to become sustainable. Ecosystems are the source of our wealth, our economy, and our social well-being.

ForestEcosystem services are global services provided by the diversity of the world’s ecosystems as they function in their natural state.1 They include the provision of raw materials for input to 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 wastes—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 its life supporting services. Thus, it is the biodiversity of organisms working synergistically within the biosphere upon which all life depends, including that of humanity.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 will 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 effects, something we may want to keep in mind as we continue our assault on the biodiversity on the planet.

The World Health Organization, in their contribution to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment4, concluded that “Human health is strongly linked to the health of ecosystems, which meet many of most critical needs.” They continue: “Ecosystem services are absolutely vital to preventing disease and sustaining good health.”

Ecosystem services supply us with all the necessities of life (and all the luxuries)! They are the foundation on which sustainability stands. They are the source of the economy and our social well-being.

…Tenet 3


1Daily et al. 1997. Ecosystem Services: Benefits Supplied to Human Societies by Natural Ecosystems. Ecological Society of America. Note: this link opens a new window.
2Naeem, S. et al. 1999. Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning: Maintaining Natural Life Support Processes. Ecological Society of America. Note: this link opens a new window.
3Hooper, D.U. et al. 2005. Effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning: A consensus of current knowledge. Ecological Monographs 75:3-35.
4Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Heath synthesis. 62 pp. (Accessed 7 October 2007). Note: this link opens a new window.

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