Chapter 14

Biosphere

Hubert Engelbrecht

Abstract

The human species has, due to its creativity and innate behavioural properties, always been driver of major extinctions. Modern species losses exceed, by far, the natural background trends of defaunation and homogenisation. The main reason is the violent expansion of human beings into the biosphere, its displacement, utilisation, and transformation. This development was accelerated at the beginning of industrialisation by motors driven by combustion of fossil energy carriers. The biosphere and its natural cycles were degraded because huge artificial material cycles exceeded the turnovers of natural cycles and immense amounts of waste were disposed of in nature. Awareness about biodiversity loss and the fact that 4/5 of the estimated 10 million species are still unknown, gave rise to the Census of Marine Life. The main threats to biodiversity are the primary and subsequent effects of industrialisation and overpopulation. The impacts on species include: physiology, demography, evolution, species interactions, range dynamics, and responses to environmental change. These negative impacts must be minimised, because conservation of biodiversity and functioning of ecosystem services are essential for human well being.

Total Pages: 162-165 (4)

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