What’s the big deal about birds and bees, flowers and trees?  More than you may realize. In fact, it’s ‘life or death’ important. Nature and its balance are essential for human existence. All the different elements of nature and the ecosystems they form work together to keep the planet habitable. The air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat all depend on biodiversity. Simply put…

  • No plants – no oxygen
  • No bees – no fruit, nuts, etc.
  • No coral reefs – no protection from devastating storms, cyclones, tsunamis
  • No trees – no absorption of urban air pollution, much less CO2 drawdown

Did you know that honey bees contribute to pollinating one-third of the food we eat? It’s hard to imagine going without almonds, apples, onions, blueberries, cucumbers, and carrots, just to name a few of the more than 90 different agricultural crops bees pollinate.

Biodiversity plays a critical role in just about everything that drives our quality of life and that of the planet.

Biodiversity provides food, water, energy, and medicines. It is the key to regulating our climate, maintaining water and air quality, controlling pollution and flooding, and supporting pollination and pest control. While more food, energy, and materials than ever before are being supplied to people in the world, the overexploitation of plants and animals is increasingly eroding nature’s ability to provide them in the future.

The Living Planet Report 2020, a publication from the World Wildlife Fund, is a comprehensive study of trends in global biodiversity and the health of the planet. Its message? “Nature – our life-support system – is declining at a staggering rate, and we are at fault.”

It is estimated that there are more than 10 million plant and animal species on earth. 

If you are ever fortunate enough to visit the Field Museum in Chicago, IL, you’ll be astounded by the display of biodiversity. Room after room, exhibit after exhibit, you will get a closer view of the wide variety of life in our natural world. You’ll also gain important insights about our connected world. Start your journey with the images below.

The normal rate of extinction is one species every four years.  Today, species are going extinct at a rate of 30,000 per year. That’s 82 species every day, four species every hour.**

Each species plays an important role in nature’s unique design.  Ecosystems with healthy populations and a wide variety of plants and animals are self-balancing. Bees and bats pollinate trees and plants, predators control prey, and trees control flooding and moderate our climate. No one animal or plant exists in isolation – not even us.*

Scientists estimate we’ve lost 30,000 species in the last year alone. But earth is home to far more species than we’ve identified; there are surely many species going extinct unnoticed.

Within the last 50 years, economic development has driven a phenomenal increase in the demand for energy, land, and water that is fundamentally changing the balance of nature.

How can we stop the loss of biodiversity?

Understanding the importance of living in harmony with nature for your personal wellbeing and that of the planet is the first step. Next, is accepting personal responsibility and taking action to change old habits and to create new sustainable ones. Then, take a look around you and encourage others to adopt new habits to live more sustainably. We should expect each other as well as the companies we support and our municipalities to be kind to the planet.

Threatened  Species
Learn more on the topic of biodiversity:
  • Take a look at how well your state is performing in key categories that directly affect quality of life: air quality, water quality, CO2 emissions, pollution, waste ranking, and water use.  Explore our interactive OPL INSIGHT.
  • Explore the videos, photos, and interesting facts through our OPL interactive map to learn about some of the unique species living on this earth.
  • Check out our recommended books including, The Sixth Extinction, The Future We Choose, The Secret Network of Nature, and The Story of More.
  • In today’s society, it’s not only about what you purchase but who you purchase from that makes a difference in our world.  Social enterprises and B-Corporations believe in the social responsibility of business. Read our blog.
  • Visit worldwildlife.org/biodiversity
  • Visit the Field Museum, Chicago, IL



**Field Museum, Chicago, IL

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