Life on Earth is getting less varied: one solution may be sitting right in front of us.
A – Hello and welcome to WoW!, the positive podcast! Showing kids that there’s a lot more to the world news than bad news.
I’m Alastair. As a journalist, I’ve often written about things going wrong. But people also need to know too about what’s going right, to know that we can change the world for the better.
I’m here this week, with my podcast buddy Clarisse, to talk about biodiversity? It’s a big word. But what does it mean? Stay tuned to find out!
I hope the podcast gives you some ideas too – and maybe a bit of a boost. If you like it, do share it with a friend!
A – Hello Clarisse!
C – Hello Alastair! What have you been doing this week?
A – I’ve been reading up about biodiversity. There’s been a lot of talk about it in the news.
C – Ah, yes. I saw that it was International Biodiversity Day. The headlines were not good, I think.
A – That’s right, Clarisse. Biodiversity just means the fact that there are lots and lots of different kinds of creature and plant on planet Earth. Everything’s related. And more and more of these things are at risk of disappearing.
C – Yes I heard that. But I also heard there’s been good news. That some species like whales are recovering?
A – You’re right, Clarisse. Yes, people have made big efforts to protect endangered species and that’s had a big effect. Whales are a good example. But actually one of the problems we have when we think about biodiversity is that it’s not just the big things we have to worry about – and you don’t get any bigger than whales! – but also much smaller forms of life that maybe seem a bit boring to a lot of us. There are over 8,000 kinds of animal on Earth. That might sound a lot, but if you count all the types, the species, of living creature AND plants, you get close to a couple of million. And it’s losing some of these things, insects or even plants we think of as weeds that is also a big problem. Everything is connected – so ultimately losing one species hurts another and so on – until eventually we’re in trouble ourselves.
C – So, you mean we have to care about every horrible insect?
A – Yeah, no one likes being bitten by insects. But somewhere that insect may be some other creature’s lunch. Or it helps a plant to grow that people need to eat.
C – I see. And losing biodiversity can really hurt people, you think?
A – Well, you remember when we talked about Jane Goodall, the famous scientist, and what she said about corona virus, COVID-19? It’s a little complicated to explain, but basically losing biodiversity seems to be one reason that more viruses are attacking us. The upside of this big problem we have right now is that it’s making more people realise that looking after Nature isn’t just about being nice to animals for the sake of being nice – it’s actually really important for our own lives.
C – OK, I see. If species are disappearing, isn’t it because of climate change? That’s a huge problem. What can I do about it – just me on my own?
A – That’s a great question, Clarisse. And yes you’re right, one of the reasons why some kinds of plant or animal or bug are in danger is because of climate change. The places they live are changing and making life hard for them. But there’s one thing that links all of these changes, in climate and biodiversity, together.
C – What’s that, Alastair?
A – Us! All our cars and machines have added to global warming. And the way we feed ourselves, by growing just a few kinds of food and lots of chemicals to kill insects and weeds and so, is also reducing biodiversity.
C – OK. But this is a huge problem that just one little person like me can’t fix.
A – Ah, but Clarisse, the only thing we can really change is our own choice. And if there’s one thing even the smallest of us can change, it’s right in front of us. Every day.
C – You mean, like on our plates!
A – Exactly, Clarisse. You make a lot of effort yourself to buy fresh, local food that’s grown without chemicals and so on, don’t you?
C – I do, yes. And, you know, at first it was a bit of an effort. But now I’ve been buying healthy, local food for years and I do it because it just tastes better!
A – So saving the planet is just a bonus for you!
C – Yes! Organic farming works with nature and the food doesn’t come a long way in trucks. And i tastes better too! In fact, I’m going to cook something now
A – Hm. What are you making?
C – Chocolate cake with courgettes!
A – Eh? Really? That’s a new one on me. And if you forgive me saying, it doesn’t sound that tempting…
C – Ah but this one is, Alastair! You see courgettes are really good right now. They’re just in season. And I put them in the cake instead of butter. So it’s much lighter and healthier!
A – Hmmm. OK. Well, you’ve almost convinced me! I’ll let you get off to the kitchen. See you next week!
C – Bye, Alastair!
A – Now, you folk out there. How does eating local, eating organic, eating healthy sound to you. Check our story and the video on our website – wow dash news dot eu – to find out how some schoolchildren have really switched on to helping the planet through eating well. The schools in their town in France get most of their food from the town’s very own farm. My fave fact from that story? The organic local lunches are not only tastier, they’re not any more expensive than the old kind. Why? Because the schools and the children have worked out how to just make enough and no more. A third of all the food in the world is wasted. A third! These schoolchildren found a way to waste hardly any. So all in all, it’s a brilliant solution!
And now before we go, how do you fancy a quick quiz? Let’s see if you’ve been listening. And we’ll test your knowledge – or your guesswork! – too.
- What does biodiversity mean? Is it a kind of university for robots? Does it mean all the variety of life on Earth? Or a game people play under water? You got it ! It’s life on Earth. Bio comes from the Greek word for life.
- Now. Biodiversity. Where does it hang out? What kind of place do you generally find the most species all together? Is it in a forest? On a computer? Or in a car park? Think about it. Are you lost in the woods? Well, a forest is the right answer. And especially jungly hot forests. That’s why chopping down trees for wood or to make bigger farms is such a bad idea!
- Now, here’s a number question. Think of a spoonful of soil. Any old soil, from a garden or a field. How many different species of living organisms might you find in a typical spoonful? Remember, they can so tiny you can’t see them. Is it more likely to be none, 10, 500 or 10,000? Hm? Quickly now. 10,000, 500, 10 or zero? Your final answer? Well done if you said… 10,000! In fact, really good soil can have a lot more microbes in it. That’s real biodiversity. It’s what makes for healthy life.
- OK, here’s another. Number four – we produce millions of tonnes of food in the world every day. But there’s a lot of it that we never eat. How much? Do we waste 10 percent of our food? More than half? Or about a third? Hm? It’s a tricky one. But yes it’s about a third of everything that’s grown never gets eaten.
- And finally… question number five: biodiversity is a problem that needs to sorted out by a) adults b) children or c) politicians. Whose problem is it? Who’s got the solution? Got an answer? A B or C? Well it’s all of them, of course! Yup, we can all do our bit. Which is good to know, right?
Ouf. How was that for you? What was your score? If you shout really loud, I might just hear you! Great! Well done, you! OK, I hope you’ve enjoyed that and you feel you’ve got a better grip on this thing called biodiversity.
A –If you’ve enjoyed this WoW! News podcast, do tell your friends. You’ll find lots more videos, podcasts and information at our website wow-news.eu. I’m Alastair and I’ll be back with Clarisse next week with more positive news specially for kids. Until then, stay healthy and be…. Positive!