Prologue

This book aims to address the dramatic issue of extinction of species on Earth.

In its unique format, it navigates through key issues surrounding the concept of biodiversity:

  • What do we know
  • The diversity of life forms on Earth
  • Where most life forms are found
  • The human impacts
  • The current status of extinction
  • The potential of preserving  biodiversity and  its implication for human civilizations
  • What should be  tried to preserve the diversity of life on Earth

This book was written in 2010 to celebrate the international year on biodiversity and with a purpose of raising awareness on the issue

Introduction

With 2010 being the international year of biodiversity, this book comes at a good time to make an overview of the state of our knowledge on biodiversity and what is at stake.

Biodiversity is still, even in the 21st century following the legacy of the work of great scientists and breakthrough discoveries, not well understood by the general public and decision makers. Indeed, we still do not seem to have understood the incredible heritage that we have as a result of more than 3.5 billion years of natural history, neither the very serious threats and devastating changes to biodiversity that are occurring at present as a consequence of human activities.

Biodiversity is the most valuable resource of our planet and we are on the verge of losing most of it. During the 21st century as a result of a combine impact of pressures from pollutions, human disturbances and climate change, most experts have warned that we could lose half of all the species inhabiting our planet by the end of this century.

Species are disappearing at an alarming rate and much faster than they are studied. We know that a tremendous amount of knowledge is contained within species whether it is for engineering applications, agriculture or to develop new medicines.

We also know that our lives, as the human species, is highly related to those of other species upon which we depend should it be for maintaining the stability of Earth ecosystems, our food supplies or our health.

Every organism has its role to play in the complex Earth ecosystems which have reached equilibrium over millions of years. Many of these ecosystems are on the verge of collapse with often unknown consequences for humans.

We however now know what the pressures are and therefore could do something to try to preserve the diversity of life on Earth by limiting or suppressing these pressures.

This book intends to provide an overview of the diversity of life, what is at stake, the major pressures on life forms and what could be done to avoid what many experts predict will be the fifth massive extinction.

We must  keep in mind that : Extinction is forever”

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