From BBC | ‘The FUTURE OF EARTH’, by Science Focus
If these die out, we will too
Insects have been pollinating flowers for 100 million years. About 70 percent of our agriculture today depends on them, and bee pollination of crops has been valued at $20bn in the US. But fertilizers, pesticides, habitat loss, invasion species, and diseases are devastating global bee populations, with potentially catastrophic consequences for food production.
These mammals play a vital role in food production, particularity in the tropics. They pollinate flowers and disperse fruit seeds, but also consume insect pests—saving us millions of dollars in pesticides. Without bats, we’d have no bananas, mangoes or tequila.
Earth’s richest ecosystems are coral reefs. They offer a home to enormous biological wealth—fish, molluscs, sharks, turtles, sponges, crustaceans, and many more. They protect coastlines from storms, filter water, and store carbon. Not a bad effort for one percent of Earth’s surface.
Do you like breathing? You’ve got plankton to thank for that—it produces between 50 to 85 percent of oxygen in the atmosphere. These tiny organisms also sink carbon to the bottom of the oceans. Not only that, they’re the base of the world’s food webs, as they are eaten by almost everything else.
Fungi are Nature’s recyclers, turning waste into vital nutrients for various plants and animals. As well as this, they help produce various cheeses, chocolate, soft drinks, and many vita drugs, such as penicillin and cholesterol controlling statins.
From the editors of BBC – ‘The FUTURE OF EARTH, by Science Focus