August 20, 2019

Jeff Sachs on biodiversity

The main lesson of ecology is the interconnectedness of the various parts of an ecosystem and the dangers of abrupt, nonlinear, and even catastrophic changes caused by modest forcings…It is a basic finding that biological diversity increases the productivity and resilience of ecosystems. With more species filling more niches in a given location, a biodiverse ecosystem is better buffered against external shocks in is more adept at cycling nutrients, capturing solar radiation, utilizing water resources, and preventing the takeover of the system by single predators, weeds, or pathogens. In other words, preserving biodiversity helps to preserve all aspects of ecosystem functions. Removing one or more species from an ecosystem, for example, by selective harvesting of trees or fish or hunted animals, can lead to a cascade of ecological changes with large, adverse, and nonlinear effects on the functioning of the ecosystem.

From Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet.

biodiversity resilience ecosystems

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