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Maintaining Biodiversity. The Web of Life. What is Biodiversity?. Biodiversity is the variety of life: the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes and the ecosystems of which they are a part. Biodiversity gives us:.

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Maintaining biodiversity

Maintaining Biodiversity

The Web of Life

What is biodiversity
What is Biodiversity?

  • Biodiversity is the variety of life:

  • the different plants, animals and micro-organisms,

  • their genes and the ecosystems of which they are a part.

Biodiversity gives us
Biodiversity gives us:

Ecosystem Services -- What Nature Does for Us Every Day

  • transfer of energy from sunlight to plants and its distribution throughout food webs;

  • storage, release, and distribution of carbon - an essential building block of all life forms--by forests, oceans, and the atmosphere;

  • cycling of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, between air, water, soil, and living organisms;

  • water cycle, which purifies and distributes Earth's fresh water; and

  • oxygen cycle, through which plants and animals exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen.


  • 90% of the world's food is derived from only 15 species of plants

  • humans use only about 150 species of plants for food, out of 80,000 potentially edible plants. 

  • Because we depend on such a narrow range of plants, our ability to produce and sustain food crops is important for human survival.


  • Approximately 1 in 5 prescription drugs in the US come from plants.

  • potential hidden within the natural world is largely untapped--only 1% of the plant species in rainforests have been tested for their possible pharmaceutical value, and other ecosystems have been largely unexplored as well. 

  • Out of the top 150 prescription drugs, 118 originally came from living creatures, mostly plants.

Raw materials
Raw Materials

  • clothing, household goods, and cosmetics.

  • forests produce pulp for paper products

  • wood for construction of homes and furniture.

Natural beauty
Natural Beauty

  • nature is beautiful and valued for its aesthetic appeal

  • brings pleasure to our lives and enriches the human experience

  • When describing "quality of life," many people mention access to nature and to open space

  • Biodiversity = full tapestry of nature

  • It’s loss makes us poorer – for ourselves & future generations


  • Many parts of the natural world prevent or slow rapid change

  • Eg Forests prevent erosion and also prevent heavy rains from turning into floods

  • Our current infrastructure & crops dependent on stability

  • If conditions change, have to:

    move crops, develop new strains, rebuild roads, buildings, bridges, repair flood damage

Community of life
Community of Life

  • Mohawk saying: "In our every deliberation, we should consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." 

  • Responsible stewardship = value in nature beyond health, economics, or food.

  • spiritual or symbolic significance of humans' place in an intact natural community.

  • worth preserving for its own sake

Economic benefits of conservation
Economic Benefits of Conservation

  • Healthy environment = healthy economy

  • biodiversity provides between $3-$33 trillion dollars to the global economy, or upwards of 11% of world GDP

  • US: In 1995 alone, visitors to national wildlife parks contributed $401 million to local businesses in communities surrounding them.

Economic cost of development
Economic Cost of Development

  • Polluted air and water increase illness + reduce productivity - in people + ecosystems

  • Lost pollinators either cannot be replaced or can be replaced only at a high cost.

  • Degraded wetlands and forests lose their capacity to filter and store water – need to build expensive water treatment plants instead

  • availability of clean water from the Delaware-Catskill watershed saved New York City an estimated $6 to $8 billion in construction costs for a water filtration plant.


  • 3 Rs

    Reduce the amount and toxicity of trash you discard

    Reuse containers and products; repair what is broken or give it to someone who can repair it

    Recycle as much as possible, which includes buying products with recycled content

Clean energy
Clean Energy

  • Solar

    - Photovoltaic (solar cell) systemsProducing electricity directly from sunlight.

    - Concentrating solar systemsUsing the sun's heat to produce electricity

    - Passive solar heating and daylightingUsing solar energy to heat and light buildings

    - Solar hot waterHeating water with solar energy

    - Solar process heat and space heating and coolingIndustrial and commercial uses of the sun's heat


  • Windmills

  • Wind turbines

    - mounted on a tower to capture the most energy

    - 100 feet or more

    - can take advantage of the faster and less turbulent wind


  • wood, plants, residues from agriculture/ forestry

  • potential to greatly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions

  • every time a new plant grows, carbon dioxide is actually removed from the atmosphere


- releasing the sugars that make up starch and cellulose in plants — can be used to make antifreeze, plastics, glues, artificial sweeteners, and gel for toothpaste

- biomass heated with oxygen = biosynthesis gas (used to make plastics and acids, which can be used in making photographic films, textiles, and synthetic fabrics)

- biomass heated without oxygen = pyrolysis oil . Phenol can be extracted from pyrolysis oil - make wood adhesives, molded plastic, and foam insulation


The use of biomass to generate electricity

There are six major types of biopower systems:




anaerobic digestion,

pyrolysis, and

small, modular.

Geothermal energy
Geothermal Energy

  • Geothermal electricity productionGenerating electricity from the earth's heat.

  • Geothermal direct useProducing heat directly from hot water within the earth.

  • Geothermal heat pumpsUsing the shallow ground to heat and cool buildings.

Hydroelectric power
Hydroelectric Power

  • Dam : Water released from the reservoir flows through a turbine, spinning it, which in turn activates a generator to produce electricity.

  • Pumped Storage Plant: stores power

  • A small or micro-hydroelectric power system can produce enough electricity for a home, farm, or ranch.

Hydrogen energy
Hydrogen Energy

  • simplest element

  • most plentiful in the universe

  • found in water & organic compounds

  • high in energy, yet an engine that burns pure hydrogen produces almost no pollution

  • Hydrogen fuel cells power the shuttle's electrical systems, producing a clean byproduct—pure water, which the crew drinks

Ocean energy
Ocean Energy

  • thermal energy from the sun's heat

  • mechanical energy from the tides and waves

  • Oceans cover more than 70% of Earth's surface, making them the world's largest solar collectors

  • sun's heat warms the surface water a lot more than the deep ocean water, and this temperature difference creates thermal energy

  • Just a small portion of the heat trapped in the ocean could power the world

Online forum
Online Forum

  • “Singapore is not doing enough to save the environment. What do you think?”

  • Please go online to write your comments on this issue.

  • At the end of 2 weeks, you will be able to vote on your favourite posting.