If you have not done so, please read the Healing Earth Introduction before proceeding through this chapter. The Introduction gives you background terms and explanations necessary for understanding the chapter.
Have you ever seen a person look at plot of land and say “It looks like the surface of the moon?” They mean that the land is stripped of life. During World War I, soldiers said the battlefields of France “looked like the surface of the moon.” Today, people look at the result of coal extraction by explosive mountain top removal in the North American Appalachian range and say the once-majestic land now “looks like the surface of the moon.” You will meet a man in this chapter, Larry Gibson, who lived on one of these mountain tops and taught us a great deal about the importance of biodiversity.
The moon lacks biodiversity. Our planet Earth is the one source of biodiversity in our known galaxy. Biodiversity is the life-giving gift of varied, colorful, and bountiful organisms that constitute our planet. Today, many of our human actions are perilously degrading our planet’s biodiversity. Declining biodiversity means that the Earth is in declining health.
A major environmental challenge of our time is to reverse this decline. The authors of Healing Earth imagine an Earth of flourishing biodiversity. We invite you to imagine this with us and join the work of making real what we imagine. First, we draw your attention to the learning objectives of this chapter. We then move to a case study from Australia that should start you thinking about how the biodiversity challenges in our contemporary world affect people living in even the remotest areas of our planet. The next section introduces basic principles in the science of biodiversity. This takes us to an exploration of resources in the fields of ethics and spirituality. These resources can guide our use of scientific knowledge as we consider actions we might take to improve Earth’s biodiversity.