Photos and Copyright
Photos, pictures: by LK (except indicated)
WCS copyright: wcs@biodiversityforearth
Inspiration: The Canticle of St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1225)
– Ecological conversion
Send us your photos, writing, poems, art, and letters! If they’re relevant, we’ll post them here!
Why it matters –
Beyond its intrinsic value, biodiversity is necessary to human survival. Ecosystem diversity is crucial to ecosystem integrity, which in turn enables our life support, giving us a livable climate, breathable air, and drinkable water. Food-crop diversity and pollinating insects and bats allow agriculture to support our populations; when disease strikes a food crop, only diversity can save the system from collapse. Plant and animal diversity provide building blocks for medicine, both current and potential; almost half of the pharmaceuticals used in the United States today are manufactured using natural compounds, many of which cannot be synthesized. They also provide critical industrial products used to build our homes and businesses, from wood and rubber to the fuels that underpin our economies — even coal and oil are the products of ancient plant matter and preserved zooplankton remains.
Biodiversity plays a central mythic and symbolic role in our language, religion, literature, art, and music, making it a key component of human culture with benefits to society that have not been quantified but are clearly vast. From our earliest prehistory, people have never lived in a world with low biodiversity. We’ve always been dependent on a varied and rich natural environment for both our physical survival and our psychological and spiritual health. As extinctions multiply, and cannot be undone, we tread further and further into unexplored terrain — a journey from which there is no return.
This principle of the Earth and its creatures having intrinsic value is particularly strong in Deep Ecology, but is in no way limited to this philosophical approach. Concern for threatened and endangered species is based on the principle of intrinsic value. Most species of organisms in the environment do not provide economic value, or at least we do not have clear evidence of how they provide direct benefits to humans. Restraining human activities that harm the earth, when undertaken for non-economic reasons, can be traced back to some kind ethic, whether it is beauty (an aesthetic ethic) or just because it is (intrinsic value). Many arguments for the conservation of biological diversity reach an impasse because proponents assume that other forms of life have intrinsic moral value, while their opponents do not. Finding ways to move beyond this impasse is an essential task for environmental ethics.