The carrying capacity

The carrying capacity of an ecosystem is its natural capacity of producing regular resources for the species living in it without posing risks for their survival. Every year thousands of species become extinct, ranging from microorganisms to large mammals. The estimated average extinction rate has become from 1000 to 10,000 more rapid over the last 60 million years. Hence, there is reason to believe that another mass extinction could take place, the first ever caused by mankind rather than as a result of a natural process. 9 species out of 10 are endangered especially by the decay and destruction of their habitat.
Men have altered most lands, converting forests and meadows to agricultural use, drying out swamps and overbuilding to create new cities. Every year 16 million hectares of forests are destroyed, mostly in tropical regions, where the highest biodiversity occurs. Other ecosystems as freshwater and terrestrial regions have been polluted by human activities. The loss of a single species affects many other ecosystems. Biodiversity, in fact, provides crucial services as the air we breath, filtering the water we drink as well as food and medicines, etc. When ecosystems lose their biodiversity they also lose their resilience, which is their capacity to adapt and become more sensitive to the impact of climate change or alien species invasions. Men should find a way to live complying with the carrying capacity of ecosystems, whilst currently the excessive consumption of resources is causing their depletion. In the past one hundred years the world population has grown tenfold thanks to technological development. In most countries having a high per capita income there is a steady population growth, but resource consumption continues to grow.

Special reports

From the Multimedia section

  • space

    Cold and heat on the Earth

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    ecosystems

    Anemone

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    ecosystems

    Desert animals

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  • ecosystems

    Desert plants

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    ecosystems

    Coral

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    water

    No more ice for the bears

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  • air

    The polar bear will become extinct

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    ecosystems

    American bear

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    ecosystems

    Deforestation in the Amazon

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  • space

    Cold and heat on the Earth

    Look

    ecosystems

    Anemone

    Look
  • ecosystems

    Desert animals

    Look

    ecosystems

    Desert plants

    Look
  • ecosystems

    Coral

    Look

    water

    No more ice for the bears

    Look
  • space

    Cold and heat on the Earth

    Look
  • ecosystems

    Anemone

    Look
  • ecosystems

    Desert animals

    Look

Facts

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