The issue of the world going through a biodiversity crisis is common in the global arena today. It is estimated that about 16,000 species are in verge of extinction, including 12% of birds, 23% of mammals and 32% of amphibians. Human impact is the main contributing factor to the biodiversity crisis (Mcneely, p. 20). Effects of human activities such as climate change, deforestation and pollution continue to destroy the habitats of wildlife globally. It is important to note that biologists believe that the problem is reversible. This can be done through various efforts to reduce human impact on the environment. However, this has not been politically easy as there are various challenges that hinder the efforts. Wilson (1988) notes that it is in the best interest of humanity to protect biodiversity.
The basic nature of ecological system is a particular blend or rather variety of living things. Sarkar (2002) suggests that the biodiversity, or the diverse living things that are found on earth, is basic to the existence of life. The importance of biodiversity to the existence cannot be underestimated. Humans have been the greatest factor behind the destruction of biodiversity. Their role in this problem has come to light and the awareness of the importance of biodiversity they have tried to put various efforts to protect it. Biodiversity is a crucial part of life on the earth. The interdependence of all living things on earth cannot be over-emphasized. This means that there is a natural interdependence between living things. Living things from this point of view includes human beings. The interdependence develops and maintains ecological systems. The most familiar of these systems are Earth’s biomes: Forests, Tundra, Aquatic, Grasslands, and Deserts. As a matter of fact, life is the fundamental feature that makes a distinction between biomes. “Biomes are defined as ‘the world’s major communities, classified according to the predominant vegetation and characterized by adaptations of organisms to that particular environment’.” In the absence of organisms or vegetations, the biomes would not be distinguished from each other. It is thus evidence that life plays a fundamental part in the working of ecosystems. The diversity or variety of life has a major part to play in the evolution (Wilson, p. 134).
The evolutionary theory holds that the greater the diversity that is there within a specific family or genus, the more it is adapted to survival in environmental changes. It is thus clear that evolution is dependent on biodiversity. It is also important to note that evolution is important for all organisms including human beings. Nevertheless, human beings have been the main contributing factor to the speedy evolutionary change (Mcneely, p. 20). Human beings are continually destroying the ecosystems. Their activities are making plants and animals to disappear from the face of the earth. It should be noted that the environment would be changing naturally even without human intervention, but important to note is that human activities are causing this to happen at a devastating rate. The changes are so fast that different species and ecological systems are failing or struggling to adapt. It is for this reason that it is for the best interest of humanity to protect biodiversity (Sarkar, p. 133).
In the modern world, there are various ways through which species as well as ecosystems are being destroyed. Land cultivation and land use is one of the main harmful activities. It is one of the responsible factors behind the loss of biodiversity. It is estimated that about a quarter of the surface of the earth is farmland. This problem is normally overlooked as it is viewed as helpful to humanity. Important to note is that the most productive areas are in favorable climates. These also happen to be the areas containing the highest amount of biodiversity. The tropics are a good example to illustrate this. This is where there are tropical rainforests as well as cloud forests. Such forests are being cleared to make room for farmlands. Pesticides and fertilizers are being used in such a large amount that they are harming land, killing and driving way animals. Those farming fail to understand that their crops depend on the forests to rains and the other organisms that they are killing with the chemicals. Additionally, the farmlands are being filled with chemicals such that they are no longer productive. Farmers are forced to clear a new plot of land, thus continuing the cycle of destruction (Sarkar, p. 134).
Preservation of wild animals is definitely for the benefits of humanity. Different species are becoming extinct at a very high rate. World animals most of which have been a source of economic benefits are disappearing from the face of the earth at a very fast rate. Humans are in the habits of waiting until a species is almost completely gone to begin efforts to reverse the situation. At times, it is too late to achieve any positive results. The main cause of endangered species is animal activities such as hunting, fishing and poaching, or complete destruction of the natural habitats of the animals. Gene erosion is happening at a very high rate, decreasing the number of species, some of which have many benefits to humanity (Wilson, p. 293).
Pollution and toxification are a major concern in the world. There are very many pollutants and other toxins that are being emitted into the environment. Through the chain of life, entire ecosystems can be destroyed by long-term pollution. Pollutants affect soil as well as ground water causing major harm to life. Pollutants into the atmosphere cause acid rain which affects crops and building among other serious effects. Reproduction anomalies in various species such as those found in water have been noted as a result of pollution and toxification. There is fear from scientists that such anomalies could eventually affect human beings (Cracraft and Grifo, p.25).
According to Wilson (1992) climate change is a major issue in the world today, believed to be caused by various human activities. Natural climate changes have occurred for ages affecting biodiversity as well as ecological systems. However, the increase in the speed in which the changes are taking place in the current times is attributed to human activities. The changes caused by human beings are threatening biodiversity and thus life on earth. “Were the average temperature to rise by several degrees Celsius, that warming would probably be followed by potentially large reorganizations of some ecological communities.”
Overpopulation is another factor that has major effects on biodiversity. Recent development in technology in science and technology has led to increase in populations. This leads to destruction of the natural environment to create more space to live, as well as agricultural and industrial space (Wilson, p. 225).
It is painfully evident that human beings are the main contributors to the destruction of biodiversity, as well as the environment in general. It is important to recognize that as rational beings, human beings are able to realize the problem they have developed and the solutions that are required to reverse the situation (Mcneely, p. 22). They also have the ability to complete these tasks. Two points of view exist to explain the reasons why it is in the best interest of humanity to protect biodiversity as well as the environment in general: intrinsic reasoning and anthropocentric.
There is a belief that there exist intrinsic reasons for protecting biodiversity, detached from their desires and needs. The argument in this case is founded on the idea that human beings are part of nature. They are not separate from nature. For instance, evolution is what caused the humanity to be, and human beings are the same people destroying the biodiversity that made evolution possible. A comparable, but somewhat different perspective behind this theory is that nature was not created by humans and thus they have no right to hard it. All the species have the right to be and should not be destroyed by human beings. Additionally, because humans have caused destruction to the nature, they should take necessary measures to rectify it (Cracraft and Grifo, p.65).
The other theory explaining why humans should protect nature is the anthropocentric theory. The theory is founded on the point of view that biodiversity is of value to humanity. One of the reasons is based on the goods that are gotten from nature. One such good is food. Food, from vegetables to animals, is very essential to human existence another example is clothing. Closes are made from biodiversity, whether cotton used currently or skin that was used in the past. Other goods are medicines that are obtained from natural sources. There are various other crops that have not been tested leaving room for more discoveries (Wilson, p. 245).
There are various services provided by the natural environment that have economic benefits. For example, biodiversity assists in keeping water clean as well as naturally managing watershed and waterflow. Plants and trees maintain clean air because of the constant exchange of gases, carbon dioxide and oxygen. The diversity also helps in regulating the climate. It is approximated that would require in excess of three trillion dollars to use man-made services in place of the natural services (Mcneely, p. 23).
The nature has a recreational as well as aesthetic benefit. Humans are always participating in activities like hiking, camping, and birding. Additionally, the value of tourism is great. Ecotourism, for instance, has become very popular in the recent past. This has increased the awareness regarding biodiversity (Wilson, p. 335).
In summary, it has emerged that biodiversity is a basic element of life on earth. It developed multifaceted ecological systems that would not be created by man. The value of the biodiversity, essentially and to human beings, is beyond measure, and therefore ought to be protected. Humanity both wants and needs biodiversity. Although humans continue to destroy biodiversity, sometimes without being aware of the impact of their actions, more and more humans are becoming aware and understand the need to preserve biodiversity.
Cracraft Joel & Grifo, Francesca T. The Living Planet in Crisis: Biodiversity Science and Policy,
Columbia: Columbia University Press, 1999
Mcneely Jeffrey A. The Nature of Biodiversity Protection, Nomadic Peoples 7(1) (2003) pp. 20-
Sarkar Sahotra. Defining “Biodiversity”; Assessing Biodiversity, The Monist 85(1) (2002) pp.
Wilson E. O. Biodiversity, Contributions from a National Forum on BioDiversity. National
Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1988,
Wilson E. O. The Diversity of Life, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1992