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Khan Academy


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Biology, Health

Resource Type

  • Videos, 12 minutes, 50 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus


Human Activities that Threaten Biodiversity

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  • This video explains that there is a direct link between human population growth, our use of resources, and the loss of biodiversity on Earth. 
  • Students will also learn that land-use changes, pollution, invasive species, and resource exploitation lead to decreases in natural habitat and in the variety of species on Earth. 
Teaching Tips


  • The video nicely illustrates that the Earth contains finite resources that must be shared by all people and all organisms on Earth.
  • Students will learn how all kinds of pollution (noise, sonar, light) can interfere with biodiversity.
  • A full transcript of the video is available.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The video explains that one of the local factors that contributes to biodiversity loss is the introduction of exotic species, but the concept is not explained in this video.
  • This video was produced in 2014, so some of the figures might not be up to date.


  • History, English language arts, or economics classes could read Thomas Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population and compare the problems that Malthus assumed humans would face in the future with the actual problems humans face today. Students could reflect on how technology solved some problems for humans while creating many other problems. 
  • Ethics classes could have a debate about whether or not humans have a right to take up so much of the Earth's resources.
  • Have students write reflections or opinion papers about why they think other species of plants and animals should have the right to exist on Earth or why they think areas should be protected to allow for biodiversity to exist on Earth.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video on how to curb overpopulation, this PBS video on the current and historic causes of species extinction, and this video from Our Changing Climate on biodiversity loss.
Scientist Notes
This 12-minute video by the California Academy of Sciences explores multiple ways in which human activities impact biodiversity. The resource begins by introducing concepts of human population growth and resource use before moving on to discussing topics such as habitat loss, pollution, and resource exploitation. This resource covers a range of complex topics, but does so in an approachable and clear manner. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
      • HS-ESS3-3 Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-6 Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms in stable conditions, but changing conditions may result in a new ecosystem.
      • HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.13.9-12 Explain why advancements in technology and investments in capital goods and human capital increase economic growth and standards of living.
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