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Ecosystems and Economics

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ECOSYSTEMS AND ECONOMICS 1

Ecosystems and Economics

Deana Petersen

2/18/2013

BIO/280

Richard Casey

ECOSYSTEMS AND ECONOMICS 2

Ecosystems and Economics

Human society has had a dramatic impact on ecosystems all over the world. Un-natural actions by man

have left ecosystems in a state where they cannot replenish themselves. Human caused degradation and

loss to these systems return to affect human health in the end. Every ecosystem on Earth plays part to

another, biodiversity, health, and sustainability are all dependant on each other. Once these factors

cannot support themselves the health of an ecosystem is in peril. When society changed its habits and

how it uses natural resources that in turn affect ecosystems will there be a lessened burden on

ecosystems richness and sustainability. This also brings benefit to human society by having resources

available farther into the future for use.

Ecosystem Loss and Degradation from Human Society

The past century has had a tremendous impact on ecosystems all over Earth. Population growth

puts an even increasing demand on food, fresh water, fuel, and other resources provided by ecosystems.

This has resulted in an irreversible loss in the biodiversity found throughout ecosystems leaving them in

a unhealthy weakened state. The ecosystems that are found on Earth today have taken billions of years

to evolve. Any actions to an ecosystem that severely change its natural state will affect its success rate.

Human societies are dependant upon the resources found within ecosystems; by taking these resources

damage it left upon the ecosystems making them weak and vulnerable. Loss of habitat from human

induced global warming is affecting species populations causing some to go extinct or become

endangered. Pollution is another issues causing degradation to ecosystems; aquatic species populations

have declined from loss of habitat and accidental indigestion of human waste as food sources causing

death. The extraction of natural resources such as oil and natural gas destroy natural habitats leaving its

species homeless driving them into other ecosystems making food sources harder to find for the natural

species. Fertilizers and pesticides poison soil and water sources making the species and organisms

within die. It seems that it took this action of human induced loss and degradation to ecosystems to

ECOSYSTEMS AND ECONOMICS 3

make a full circle coming back to affect human in the end is when these was an significant interest and

concern over human societies impact upon natural ecosystems.

Affects on Species and Ecosystem Dynamics

Human activities have altered and permanently changed the structures, energy flows, and cycling

of ecosystems everywhere. It has affected nutrient cycles, doubled the supply of fixed nitrogen, and

caused cultural eutrophication in ecosystem dynamics (54 Ecosystems. Human Infliction. n. d.).

The affects on species are multiple from human activities. Habitats are altered and/or destroyed

from humans; currently from population growth animals and plants are disappearing 1000 times faster

than at any time in the past (Natural and Human Impacts on Wildlife. The Human Touch. 2013). Some

plant and animal species are endangered due to exotic or invasive species encroachment into

ecosystems. An example of human activity and its affect to species is that of the Karner Blue Butterfly.

This species is endangered because of its delicate environment requirement. It is dependant on the wild

lupine as it acts as the butterfly’s larvae only food source. With humans now controlling wildfires and

plant growth the lupine is not as abundant as it once was. Another factor killing off the lupine is

pesticides. Combining all factors affecting the butterfly’s health its population has dropped by 99 percent

in the last two decades (Nature Works. Looking for Lupine. 2013).

Economic Decisions Underlying Conservation and Exploitation

Until recently, ecosystem conservation was not a factor when development, extractment, or

pollution issues were decided. What influenced these decisions was the most ideal ways that funds

could be invested; this is why there has been so much of a negative impact on ecosystems. The cost and

benefits of human enterprise on ecosystems have been a negative one. One case is that of a tropical

rainforest in Cameroon that had converted to a small scale agriculture and commercial plantations. The

total economic value of the intact ecosystems ranged from 14 percent to almost 75 percent higher than

the converted ecosystems values (Environment News Service. Humanity Loses. 2002).

ECOSYSTEMS AND ECONOMICS 4

Changing Bad Habits

Though today there is data available that can be used to define ecosystem costs from

development projects and other related factors, there is still minimal use of this information used in

making decisions when ecosystems are involved. With better communication of facts and figures

between conservationists and societies on ecosystem impacts and needs there can bean easier understood

end result that can be altered protecting the richness of ecosystems.

ECOSYSTEMS AND ECONOMICS 5

Reference

http://www.course-notes.org/Biology/Outlines/Chapter_54_Ecosystems

http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/nwep16b.htm

http://ens-newswire.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/2002-08-09-07.html…...

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