Happy World Environment Day! To celebrate this important occurrence, we prepared a list of 5 fun and interesting facts about the environment and the beautiful creatures of our planet. Let’s not forget that we only have one Earth and we must take care of it!
1. The Earth is Home to Over 2 Million Animal Species
The IUCN Red List tracks the number of species on Earth and updates this figure every year. In 2021, it listed a staggering 2 million species on the planet! This number comprises over one million insects, 11,000 birds, 11,000 reptiles, and 6,000 mammals. The vast majority of them are terrestrial, however, animals can survive in different climates, from tropical and temperate to polar and marine.
Animals play a crucial role in the maintenance of the ecosystems they live in. Birds and insects, for example, perform pollination, which allows plants to become fertilized and produce fruits, seeds, or other plants and is thus an essential part of agriculture. Similarly, grazing animals are important for allowing grassland to regenerate and many different types of grass and wildflowers to coexist.
2. Life on Earth is Dominated by Plants
Plants – mainly trees – dominate life on Earth. Indeed, plant species make up 82% of the global biomass, the mass of living organisms on our planet.
Forests are particularly important for our planet. They cover 31% of the global land and are some of the world’s most important carbon sinks. Indeed, when they undergo photosynthesis, they take in carbon from the atmosphere and then use it to build new leaves and roots. It is estimated that forests capture almost 30% of the planet’s carbon emissions every year!
3. Oceans Are Home To Over 3.5 Trillion Fishes
Not only do oceans make up nearly 71% of our planet’s surface but they are also the source of nearly 97% of all the Earth’s water and are home to an estimated 3.5 trillion fishes! However, it is almost impossible to count all of them and experts estimate that we still only know a tiny fraction of the marine species in our oceans.
While forests absorb immense quantities of carbon, oceans are by far the world’s largest carbon sink. They not only absorb about half of the carbon emitted but also 93% of the heat trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gas emissions!
Fish is also an extremely important food source for humans, with over three billion people depending on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods.
4. Oxygen Plays A Crucial Role In Life on Earth
Oxygen is not only essential to human life but it is also needed by most living things on Earth – from animals to plants – to survive. It makes up around 21% of the Earth’s atmosphere and it is also the most abundant element in the human body.
The oxygen found in the air is produced through photosynthesis. This process converts the toxic carbon dioxide we exhale into fresh oxygen, removing toxins and allowing us to breathe cleaner air.
5. There Are Almost 8 Billion People in the World
The world’s population grew incredibly fast, going from around 2.6 billion people in 1950 to 7.9 billion people today. And yet, we only account for 0,01% of the Earth’s biomass! Scientists predict that by the end of the current decade, there will be 8.5 billion people but the number could surpass 11 billion by 2100.
Over the centuries, humans have completely transformed the world, developing new technologies and allowing our societies to grow and reach unimaginable things. However, as we celebrate World Environment Day this year, we must not forget that everything we do has consequences. The way we have carried out industrial development over the past century has caused irreversible damage to our planet. As we are now facing some of the highest levels of CO2 emissions ever experienced and we are getting increasingly familiar with the consequences of climate change, we must not forget that we only have our planet and it is our duty to take care of it, before it is too late to save it!
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