h it is somewhat
debatable as to whether or not humans caused it. Natural changes in weather
have had perhaps the greatest affect on biodiversity and ecological
systems. The threat of humans shifting the climate is therefore extremely
threatening to the natural environment. “Were the average temperature to
rise by several degrees Celsius, that warming would probably be followed by
potentially large reorganizations of some ecological communities.” (1).
One last issue concerning the affects that humans have on biodiversity is
that of overpopulation. Recent advances in science and medicine have
allowed for much greater life span and a very small infant mortality rate.
We are increasing in population more rapidly than ever before. The growing
population causes displacement of natural environments, not only because we
need more living space, but also because the demand for agriculture and
industry becomes higher as a result.
It is painfully clear that in many ways humans have had a significantly
negative affect on biodiversity and Earth’s natural environment as a whole.
It is essential to realize that as rational beings, humans have the ability
to not only understand the problems we have created and what needs to be
done to amend them, but also the capability of accomplishing these tasks.
There are two basic venues of thought as to why we should protect
biodiversity and our natural environment, one being intrinsic reasoning,
and the other being anthropocentric.
Many believe that there are intrinsic reasons to protect biodiversity,
separate from all human needs and desires. These arguments are based on the
idea that humans are part of nature, not separate from it. Evolution, for
example, is what allowed us to come into being originally, and humans are
now destroying the same biodiversity that allowed evolution to happen. A
similar, but slightly different principle behind the intrinsic theory, is
that people did not create nature, and therefore should not have the right
to destroy it. Every species has a right to not be eliminated by humans.
Furthermore, because humans destroy natural habitats consciously, we should
be responsible for fixing any unnecessary damage that we have done.
A somewhat contradictory view is the anthropocentric theory. This is based
on the idea that biodiversity has value for us as humans. The first, most
direct example of this lies in goods obtained from nature. The most
important, and often overlooked, is food. It is natural and necessary for
us to consume a variety of living things, from vegetables to animals, in
order to remain healthy.
Cloth is another such example; we need the
diversity of life in order to make clothes for ourselves, whether they be
cotton, as many are now, or animal skin, as used in the past. Other goods
include pharmaceuticals and medicines that are derived from naturally
existing sources. These have proven to be incredibly valuable to us, and
millions of plants have never been chemically tested, which leaves many
open opportunities for discovery of new organic remedies .