Is Biodiversity Overprotected
What does biodiversity mean? It is a word used to describe the variety of all life in an ecosystem in addition to the specific habitats and communities in which they live (Convention on Biological Diversity). For years, people have been going back and forth on whether the environment is overprotected or underprotected. I believe that both sides of the debate go to unnecessary extremes, but agree with those who say that biodiversity is underprotected.
The movement to really start caring about the environment began back in the later 1900s, when acts and policies such as the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966 was created, which provided lists of species that could be endangered and some means of protection for them (U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service). Even with movements such as that, as well as groups lobbying to “go green” and save what natural resources we have left, biodiversity is only continuing to decrease. Species go extinct all the time—some estimates suggest that over 99.9% of all species to ever live on the planet have gone extinct, which goes to show that it is a natural process (GeoWords).
Since in reality extinction is inevitable for all organisms at some point or another, it is our job as humans to do everything in our power to slow this process down as much as possible, especially for those species already considered endangered. In the history of the Earth, there have been approximately five major extinctions due to climate changes, natural disasters, or meteoroids/asteroids that have fallen from the sky.
The world is currently looking at a sixth major extinction that is almost 100% human driven, and it is predicted that by 2100, 50% of all living organisms will die out. The three biggest components to this extinction are pollution, destroying habitats, and introducing invasive species, all of which can be somewhat controlled if humans are just a little bit more careful in their everyday activities of life (Johnson n. p. ). The amount of species that are completely wiped out each year, let alone everyday, surprises most people because they do not realize just how many species are out there in the world.
We forget just how many types of insects and plants there are and think, “how could the absence of a bug or flower result in consequences? ” Each species relies on another, creating one very long chain, and each time a link on this chain is taken away, it forces the others to adjust, or in some cases fail to adjust. It is not just the panda bears and polar bears that need to be looked out for, but all animals that are being threatened. Another reason why the issue of biodiversity needs to receive more attention is due to the land that is being destroyed.
In the rain forest alone, millions of square miles of land each year can be cleared of plant life for cattle ranching and agricultural purposes. Not only does doing this displace organisms that live there, it reduces the quality of land. Forests provide natural habitats to approximately 70% of all Earth’s species, so if their homes are cleared out, they either have to learn to adapt to the changes, migrate somewhere else, or die off. The climate is also prone to change when an ecosystem’s land is changed.
Using forests as an example again, when destroyed, the soil that was once moist and fertile due to the covering of trees, suddenly becomes dry and lacks nutrients because it is directly hit by the sun’s rays. Trees are also a vital part to the water cycle since they have the ability to return water vapor back into the atmosphere (National Geographic). The only real benefit for clearing forests is to make money, but is money really worth it if it comes at the expense of putting thousands of species in danger?
Those that think biodiversity is overprotected have valid arguments as well though. So many environmentalists want to preserve biodiversity, but they are not the ones that have to pay in order to do so—it is the landowners that are forced to upkeep and maintain their land if it is home to an animal that is on the endangered species list. These owners are angry that they have to use their money to preserve a couple of plants or animals that just happen to reside on their private property, instead of being able to just shoot it if it is being a nuisance (Ghista n. p. ).
If the expenses of saving these animals was shared among all people, I think landowners would be much more willing to cooperate with the environmentalists. If laws are changed and the costs of preserving are divided equally, then landowners should be able to deal with a little bit of inconvenience if it means keeping a species alive, and not directly being responsible for the levels of biodiversity decreasing. What it all comes down to is this—we need biodiversity.
That statement is a fact, and the sooner people realize that, the better. Biodiversity is at the root of countless issues that include, but are not limited to, a stable climate, agriculture, new and current medicines, clean water, cultural diversity, and stability within the food chain. Although major problems that were talked about such as extinctions are indeed a natural and necessary process that clears a pathway for new species, this is only true up until a certain point (Johnson n. p. ).
Mankind has surpassed this “natural” rate, actually being responsible for increasing the loss of species “1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day” (Center for Biological Diversity). Presently, it may seem as if plants, animals, and natural resources are infinitely expendable at our fingertips, but if the issues at hand continue to be ignored, the consequences of human actions will begin to surface more and more frequently. Nothing lasts forever, but it is up to us to do everything in our power to keep what we have for as long as possible.
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