Biodiversity can simply be defined as the different forms of life within a given species or ecosystem. Biodiversity can also be defined as the variety of living things that exist on the earth. Indeed, this is a fundamental property of all ecosystems. Thus, biodiversity encapsulates the idea that, within any ecological system, there has to be a certain diversity or mixture of living things. It is not possible to have only one type of life form in a given ecosystem and refer to that as biodiversity. It is equally pertinent to note that biodiversity has also been defined as the standard for measuring the health of an ecosystem. Is it essential that we have varying life forms on earth? Is it necessary that we have a variety of living things on the earth? These two questions will form the crux of this submission. This is because the submission will be seeking to make an in-depth analysis of the importance of biodiversity. It is only after appreciating its importance that people will understand and appreciate the need to protect it. In discussing this issue, this article will adopt a two pronged approach; first, it will highlight the importance of biodiversity. The second ambit of the two pronged approach will focus on the gist of the submission which is why we should protect biodiversity.
The principal reason why we should protect biodiversity is because biodiversity is of paramount importance to the existence of life on earth. This is because, in addition to referring various types of living things on the earth, biodiversity encompasses the interdependence of all these living things. It must be emphasized that human beings are also living things thus are part and parcel of this interdependence. The centrality of biodiversity to human beings is highlighted by the fact that biodiversity played a key role in the evolution of both man and other living organisms. This is highlighted by the fact that living organisms tended to settle in environments characterized by a particular set of conditions which were favorable to them. Indeed, the evolutionary theory advances the argument that the greater the diversity that exists within a genus or family, the more likely it is to survive environmental change. In essence, without biodiversity, there can be no evolution. Consequently, we have an obligation to protect biodiversity as this will be key in enabling living organisms and especially animals to adapt to the changing environmental conditions. If we fail in this task, then we stand the risk of watching as many of the animal species become extinct due to their inability to survive in the changing environment.
It is also vital to protect biodiversity for us to continue enjoying the products of the soil. This principally refers to food. We must guard against land use practices which have immensely contributed to a decrease in biodiversity. 25% of the earth’s land surface is covered with farmland. It is also true that the most fertile soils are usually found in the ideal climates. Similarly, the largest amount of biodiversity is also to found in these places with the best climates. The inherent risk arising from the facts above is that if human beings continue clearing other forms of biodiversity so as to engage in agricultural practices, in the near future there is a risk of depleting all the rainforests. Depletion of rainforests while pursuing agricultural activities has serious implications for the entire globe. Among other things, such a situation will only serve to worsen the problem of climate change, which we are already grappling with. Additionally, such clearing of forests is simply engaging in a practice of creating more deserts. Thus, the fundamental question must be answered is whether we are ready to live in a world which is severely affected by climate change. Certainly, no one would want to live in such conditions and thus everyone has a mandate to protect biodiversity so as to keep such harmful events as climate change at bay.
For some countries in the world such as a number of those in Africa, the tourism sector is a key pillar of their economies. One of the main tourist attractions in these countries is the availability of a wide variety of wild animals which are present in many countries. For instance, many tourists travel to these countries just to see the big five, but if the loss of biodiversity continues at the current rate, we run the risk of these and other species of animals becoming extinct. Already, loss of biodiversity has caused a significant decrease in their numbers. For instance, in Kenya, there were approximately over 30 000 lions in the country during the 1970s but today that number stands at less than ten thousand. The main factor that has been attributed to this sharp decline has been the loss in biodiversity. Due to human activities leading to loss of biodiversity, animals have been forced to migrate to other environments, which have not been ideal for them. Such migration has a ripple effect in a food chain as the predators will lack prey to feed. They will either starve to death or turn to domestic animals such as cows with the result being human wildlife conflict. Eventually, most of these animals will be killed thus hastening their extinction process. It is, therefore, necessary to protect biodiversity if we hope to prevent the loss and extinction of animals.
It is also believed that there are intrinsic reasons why human beings should protect biodiversity. These reasons are said to be intrinsic as they are arguably separate from human needs but arise from the basic fact that one is a human being. Certainly, human beings are not separate from nature but rather are part and parcel of it. The gist of the argument in the intrinsic theory is that it is irrational to destroy that which one is part of. In other words, if human beings are part of biodiversity, why should they engage in practices that, destroy other forms of biodiversity yet they are part of the whole. Additionally, biodiversity has been defined as encompassing the concept of interdependence between the various living organisms that comprise biodiversity. Thus, in one way or another, man is dependent on other living organisms and forms of life that are part of the environment. It is, therefore, his singular duty and responsibility to protect biodiversity for the simple reason that if there is a depravation or degradation of biodiversity, ultimately, it is human beings who will bear the greatest consequences. Of course, once we down that drain, it is an irreversible process; we must act now and redouble efforts to protect biodiversity.
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