“We are all connected in the great circle of life”, the great Mufasa from Disney's The Lion King explains to his son Simba. The King spoke wise words. Prepare for a few facts and figures...
Our biodiversity and ecosystems depend on food, water and energy for survival. All these elements are closely intertwined. Water is needed for both energy and food production. On average, it takes one litre of water to produce every calorie we eat (Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus, 2011 in WWF, 2014). The same report highlighted that 8% of global water withdrawals (rising to 45% in industrialized countries) is used for energy generation. Equally, energy is needed for pumping and purifying water.
Half another Earth is needed to meet current demands on nature
Understanding the food, water and energy nexus is one thing but it becomes more relevant, when we consider that we are consuming more than our natural environment can provide. According to WWF we need 1.5 Earths to meet the demands we are currently making on nature. The Living Planet Index showed that in 40 years, biodiversity had fallen by 52%.
Freshwater species faring the worst
Not only is freshwater needed for all biodiversity but the biodiversity in freshwater is suffering the greatest. Populations of freshwater species fell by 76% between 1970 and 2010, compared with 39% for marine and 39% for terrestrial populations (WWF, 2014).
We already know that water is needed for food production. With the population predicted to exceed 9 billion by 2050, we will need to make changes now to meet future demand. Already, nearly a billion people suffer from hunger (Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus, 2011) and 768 million people are living without a safe, clean water supply (WHO/UNICEF, 2013).
Money on your mind
In monetary terms, the greatest single service freshwater ecosystems provide is water purification and the assimilation of wastes, valued at US$ 400 billion worldwide annually. Looking after our freshwater ecosystems therefore makes financial sense.
Just do it for the love
Finally, facts and figures aside, connecting with nature and preserving our biodiversity and ecosystems can have benefits for our mental wellbeing, as this Earthwatch lecture explored in 2013.
Over to you
We heard in B is for the Biggest blog that our partner Freshwater Habitats Trust carried out a survey of small water bodies in the UK and found that ponds support 70 per cent of freshwater plants and animals and more endangered species than any other fresh water bodies. Help to preserve these important ecosystems and their biodiversity by signing up to Freshwater Watch.
Coming next: M is for Microbeads
A is for Alien Invasions; B is for the Biggest!; C is for Crickets in your lunchbox; D is for Data. Or is it datum?; E is for Eighty Litres of Water in an Orange; F is for Ferruginous Pochard; G is for Going, Going, Gone?; H is for Heroes; I is for Industrial Revolution; J is for Jigsaw Puzzles; K is for (Everything including the) Kitchen Sink; L is for Life itself; M is for Microbeads; N is for Namedropping