With International Biological Diversity day coming up, it’s important to talk about the planet we all call home: Earth. Planets that cannot support life are not very common in the galaxy. This planet sits in the habitable zone of the solar system, known as the Goldilocks Zone.
It’s called the Goldilocks Zone because any closer to the sun, and the planet would be too hot, while any farther away, and the planet would be too cold. This makes finding planets that can support life extremely difficult, as the planets that form in this zone must also not be too close to asteroid rings or any of the numerous celestial dangers.
Finally, a planet must also form with the necessary elements required to start the pathway to life. All of these factors make habitable planets extremely rare, which makes Earth’s existence even more special. Earth is protected from harmful cosmic rays by the sun, from asteroids by the numerous gas giants located around the solar system, and was formed with the necessary elements needed to produce life.
Earth is also home to about 10 million species of plants and animals. These plants and animals contribute to the environment as a whole to make it well suited to supporting life.
For example, plants use water, carbon dioxide, and nutrients to produce sugars and release oxygen. All animals breathe oxygen to survive, while insects and herbivores eat planets. Other animals eat those herbivores, and when you get to the end of the chain, smaller microbes decompose those bigger animals. Finally, the decomposed nutrients are left in the soil which feed the plants and restart the cycle. This forms the ecosystem we know as the circle of life. However, this circle of life is highly susceptible to outside influence.
We hurt our planet in multiple ways, particularly pollution. The more commonly known pollutions are air and water pollution, while many don’t know land pollution is an actual classification. Deforestation is another subtype of land pollution, the worst being mass deforestation.
Mass deforestation is not uncommon. Chopping down large swaths of forests for raw materials and expansion seemed harmless. That was before ecologists realized how important these forests were to the ecosystem. They provide homes to thousands of animals and plants, particularly the trees themselves. The trees, in turn, filter most of our carbon dioxide out of the air, releasing oxygen.
One extremely important forest for providing a home for many species of animals, is the Amazon Rainforest. The Amazon rainforest is home to over 10% of the world’s animal species, and produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen. Despite this, contractors have been chopping down large areas of the Amazon. We have to remember as we celebrate Biological Diversity Day that it is extremely important to help maintain a stable ecosystem. After all, both humans and millions of animals rely on the stability of the ecosystem for our survival. Biological Diversity Day is May 22nd.