On this the first day of the new year, I once again recommend this set of publications:
Sustaining Life - How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity
Edited by Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein
See more at this link.
The online Executive Summary that matches and summarizes this publication is available here.
Here is a brief section from the introduction:
"E.O.Wilson once said about ants 'we need them to survive, but they don’t need us at all.' The same, in fact, could be said about countless other insects, bacteria, fungi, plankton, plants, and other organisms. This central truth, however, is largely lost to most of us. Rather, we act as if we were totally independent of Nature, as if it were an infinite source of products and services for our use alone, and an infinite sink for our wastes. During the past 50 years, for example, we have squandered one fourth of the world’s topsoil, one fifth of its agricultural land, and one third of its forests, while at the same time needing these resources more than ever, having increased our population from 2.5 billion to over 6.1 billion. We have dumped many millions of tons of toxic chemicals onto soils and into fresh water, the oceans, and the air, while knowing very little about the effects these chemicals have on other species, or, in fact, on ourselves. We have changed the composition of the atmosphere, thinning the ozone layer that filters out harmful ultraviolet radiation, toxic to all living things on land and in surface waters, and increasing the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide to levels not present on Earth for more than 420,000 years."