THE BLOG
12/09/2016 12:37 pm ET Updated Dec 09, 2017

Why Should You Care About Biodiversity?

Reversing the drastic decline in biodiversity is the most important goal for sustainable development. Biodiversity is the collection of species and the environment in which they inhabit. Biodiversity is the life in an ecosystem.

Sustainable development according to Bruntland is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs. My interpretation of Burntland's concept on sustainable development is that we must keep in mind our future generations with the actions of which we take today.

When we think of biodiversity we are talking about our eco-system and all it's inhabitant species living harmoniously together. Bruntland's definition on sustainable development is closely related to the decline of biodiversity in a way which biodiversity affects our generation and that of our future generation.

The difficulty with bio-diversity is that we know it is important to us and our survival, however, we don't know to what extent and how important it is. We cannot place a value on biodiversity. We can say it has non-use value if we look from an economics point of view. We know the rate at which species are becoming extinct and we also know that new species are not coming into existence fast enough.

There is an estimate that by 2050 there will be 50% of existing species that will go extinct. Species are going extinct directly by people hunting them for food, resources, consumption and for profit. Indirectly by the damage that is done to the environment and the climate change.

The more species that go extinct the more value they hold to people who hunt and sell them, the sad truth is that profit and ignorance are what drive a lot of the devastation on biodiversity.

What does it mean for our future generations when this happens?

For an ecosystem to function, here I am using the term function as Litke would coin it; function is an action serving the use of purpose. Litke says there are three elements to the function of living things; power - to preserve own life, function - the preservation of life and adaptability - sometimes things must adapt to preserve life.

We need all the species within the ecosystem to function. We also need the environment in which the species inhabit for them to be able to function.

Humans can achieve function without impacting the function of the eco-system by reversing the drastic decline of bio-diversity.

As Roselands states the natural capital has an effect on sustainability and cannot be substituted or eliminated. Biodiversity would classify under the natural capital of Roseland's six capitals.

The impact that businesses make on the environment affects the species who live in that environment and the climate in which everyone must endure. When we don't have biodiversity, we risk among many things the maximization of human happiness/flourishing.

Kant's theory explains that the rational being has a duty towards others. Even though his argument is that humans need the environment but the environment comes second and that only human interest matter we can say that the environment is of human interest, because the consequence of destroying the environment/biodiversity will impact humanity.

Kant says that it is wrong to manipulate others, limit choice, and have no respect, yet this is what is going on with 'business as usual', and the only one's that can control the businesses actions are policy makers.

Not taking into consideration the importance of biodiversity we risk the self-interest of the individual and their moral duty towards others. We cannot think of oneself without the consideration of other people, because what affects other people will eventually affect the self in the future.

This also applies to countries and nation states, what actions they make may not affect their country directly or cause any consequences in the short term, it does affect the whole world indirectly and has huge consequences in the long term, to our future generations.

We can see the devastating effects in food, salmon, and dogs that lack diversity in their genome and the consequence that poses on them. Interbred dogs suffer from many diseases and live shorter lives due to the lack of diversity in their genome. Food that is genetically modified is also becoming a threat to its own extinction and health benefits. Salmon farms pose an enormous threat not only to the farmed salmon population but also on the wild salmon due to the fast spread of a disease that cannot be controlled when there is an outbreak.

Having diversity eliminates that possible threat of this extinction and disease. When we look at biodiversity we can see the same examples occurring with the lack of diversity we can expect more disease, outbreaks, and extinction.

There is a very simple way to look at biodiversity using an anthropocentric view, which means that of human interest; human survival depends on the eco-system. Biodiversity is required for a healthy ecosystem. Therefore, human survival depends on biodiversity.

Protecting biodiversity is a challenge on its own especially when it comes to different cultures and societal laws. The first step is to recognize its importance on human lives, the second step would be to implement a policy that would be general and could be applied to different countries, nation states, and businesses.

A policy that would decrease the decline of biodiversity will also increase the chances of sustainability, this is long term thinking. The opposition to this would be short-term self-interested thinking, profit versus environment.

Although the two can compliment each other in the long term, with short term thinking they do not. We must, therefore, sacrifice profit to think about the eco-system.

Soon enough the species that walked this earth will only be something we can read about in history books, such as the killer whales, the polar bears, and the elephants among many other species.

I want to conclude by saying that protecting biodiversity is our responsibility and the effect can be devastating on human survival and sustainable development if we do not protect it. Biodiversity provides people food and resources from the environment when taken at a rate of which it can replenish.

What enables this choice of decline in biodiversity is profit. Maybe it is better to have an expense that would diminish the profit to encourage to do something more sustainable and reward the sustainable processes. It also provides opportunities to use the environment in a beneficial and sustainable way for example growing corn as a renewable energy source will provide jobs and energy for an indefinite amount of time.

Some species don't seem to have value, but they matter as much as species who do. Protecting biodiversity and the ecosystem should not be a choice. Policy makers need to take it very seriously and use the right measures to protect and reverse the drastic decline in biodiversity.