“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” – Rachel Carson
The human impact on the natural world, and; consequently, the ecological balance has reached unparalleled levels. Humankind is present on all seven continents, including Antarctica. And, according to Klaus Rodhe, the editor of the book, “The Balance of Nature and Human Impact“, “almost all ecosystems have been modified by human activities through habitat loss and fragmentation, overexploitation, pollution, and invasive species.”
Additionally, 2013 statistics show that more than 35% of the world’s surface area, excluding the seas, was used for urban settlements and agriculture, humans utilised over 50% of the available freshwater, 70% of marine fish have already been overexploited, and 50% of the worlds coral reefs have been destroyed or are in the process of being destroyed.
Finally, the impact of greenhouse gas emissions had already been associated with climate change associated with global warming in 2013. Unfortunately, 2019 statistics show “global carbon emissions… [were] …expected to hit an all-time high.“
Additionally, scientists predicted that by the end of 2019, industrial emissions from the “burning of fossil fuels… [would] …pump an estimated 36.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.” And the cumulative carbon emissions from all human enterprises, including agriculture and land use, will likely top out at circa 43.1 billion tons.
Clearly, something needs to be done to prevent the total destruction of the earth by human activities. Not only is the radical reduction of greenhouse gas emissions more of a priority than ever before, but humankind must make an effort to reduce its carbon footprint as a matter of urgency.
Reducing humankind’s negative impact on the natural order or environment
As highlighted above, it is fundamentally vital to reduce the human impact of the environment. And this can be achieved by considering the concept of ecological balance, as well as ways of restoring the ecosystem’s natural order, balance, and stability.
Before we look at ways to restore the environment’s natural order, let’s look at a succinct definition of the phrase “ecological balance.”
According to scvswap, the term “ecological balance” is described as the “equilibrium between living organisms such as human being, plants, and animals as well as their environment.“
A reasonable question to ask is: “Why is maintaining the global ecosystem’s natural order so important?”
By way of answering this question, it is essential to note that the survival of all of the world’s species is dependent on the ecological balance.
There are many different ecosystems or types of ecosystems in the world. Each ecosystem is typically created as a pyramid structure. And all of the individual levels are needed to balance the ecosystem or keep the environment’s natural order.
Otherwise, if this balance is thrown out of kilter because of the destruction of one of the elements of the ecosystem, the pyramid-structure will collapse. And all of the other levels on top of the missing level run the risk of dying out. Additionally, the animals like rodents in the level below could spiral out of control and become pests because their predators have died out.
The well-balanced ecosystem: A case study
An example of a well-balanced ecological pyramid is found on the Great Plains of Eastern Africa. The annual Wildebeest migration between the Mara Plains and Serengeti is seasonal.
According to Siyabona, circa two million animals migrate across the plains in search of food and water.
If the land that the animals migrate across is closed off due to agricultural activities, then they wouldn’t be able to find food so would die off. Also, drought conditions caused by global warming would reduce their numbers substantially.
Both of these scenarios would not only reduce the numbers of wildebeest, but it would impact predators like crocodiles, lions, hyenas, and jackals negatively. Even the birds that eat carrion would be adversely affected as there will be no food for them.
While this sounds like a random event that occurs twice a year, it’s a vital part of a delicate ecological balance. And, this ecological pyramid found in the Great Plains of East Africa can be explained as follows.
Succinctly stated, it consists of grass, trees, and plants at the bottom, insects like dung beetles higher up, and then second from the top are the herbivores like the Wildebeest, Zebra, and Gazelle. Finally, the predators like the lion are at the pinnacle of this ecological pyramid.