Life Yields Life
Chlorophyll-containing microorganisms and plants use photosynthesis to convert energy from sunshine into usable forms that are passed throughout the food web. Minerals are broken down into essential compounds that can be gathered from the soil and the water. Nutrients, water, and air are formed and maintained by the workings of both living organisms and environmental processes.
The Products We Need and So Much More
The diversity of life within ecosystems is an irreplaceable asset to humans. The various components of biodiversity, from the complete ecosystems to the individual organism and its genetic code, provide people with numerous tangible products. Food and clothing are harvested from crops and livestock. Lifesaving medicines are derived from microorganisms, fungi, plants, and animals. Natural pesticides are being developed from bacteria and other organisms to protect crops without damaging the environment or harmless species. Building materials are made from forest products, and fuel for heating and cooking are provided by wood or dung. These indispensable provisions serve integral roles in our social and economic structures. There are also many intangible values to ecological diversity such as soil generation and productivity, water cycling and cleansing, protection of our watersheds, climate control, and simple enjoyment of the bounties of nature. Which of these products or processes could humans live without?