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Endangered species should not be protected essay

By Michael Marshall 14 July 2015 In 1981, mountain gorillas were at rock-bottom. Confined to a small mountain range in central Africa, with humans encroaching on their habitat bringing poaching and civil war, their population was estimated at just 254.

They would all have fitted into a single Boeing 747. Today things look a little better. A survey in 2012 reported that the population was up to 880. That is a big improvement, but it's still only two Boeing 747s of mountain gorillas. They remain critically endangered. We hear similar tales of woe all the time, from all around the world. Whether it's tigers, pandas, California condors or coral reefs, much of the world's wildlife is under threat.

It's initially upsetting, and eventually just numbing. Is it worth worrying about it all?

Of course we should!

Sure, it will be sad if there aren't any more cute pandas on the planet, but it's not like we depend on them. Besides, surely it's more important to take care of humans — who, let's face it, have their own problems to worry about — than to spend millions of dollars preserving animals.

What, in short, is the point of conservation?

Endangered Species Essay

View image of Top predators like wolves make ecosystems more diverse Credit: The most obvious is the staggering cost involved. Saving all the endangered marine species might well cost far more. Why should we spend all that money on wildlife when we could spend it to stop people dying of starvation or disease?

It can be particularly hard to understand why anyone would want to preserve animals like wolveswhich pose a threat both to people and livestock. Surely there are some species we would be better off without. Species go extinct all the time anyway. As well as individual species dying out, there have been five mass extinctions that obliterated swathes of species.

The most recent one, 65 million years ago, took out the dinosaurs. The extinction rate has increased a hundredfold over the last century If extinction is a natural process that goes on even in the absence of humans, why should we stop it? One answer is that species are now going extinct far faster than they used to.

A recent study estimated that the extinction rate has increased a hundredfold over the last centuryand we seem to be to blame. But beyond that, there's a simple reason to save species: View image of Coral reefs support a rich variety of beautiful organisms Credit: We think animals are cute, majestic, or just plain fascinating.

We love walking in the dappled sunlight of an old forest, or scuba-diving over a coral reef.

  • A recent study estimated that the extinction rate has increased a hundredfold over the last century , and we seem to be to blame;
  • However, the destroyed balance in the diversity of biological species means that some animals are endangered and therefore need to be preserved;
  • An example of such symbols is elephant ivory that has caused a real epidemic in terms of poaching;
  • View image of Gorilla habitat is home to all sorts of species Credit;
  • Many of these organizations allow you to adopt an animal.

Who doesn't think mountain gorillas are awesome? The fact that some of us find nature beautiful, by itself, won't do Nature is beautiful, and that aesthetic value is a reason to keep it, just as we preserve artistic masterpieces like the Mona Lisa or Angkor Wat. The first problem with this argument is that it spells doom for all those animals and plants that people are less fond of: If we don't find them appealing, they're out. More fundamentally, it comes from a position of luxury and privilege.

It's all very well for a moneyed person in the western world to want to preserve tigers because they're nice to look at, but that doesn't cut much ice with a villager in rural India whose family is in danger from one.

So the fact that some of us find nature beautiful, by itself, won't do. There needs to be a more practical reason to keep species around. You often hear it said that we should keep ecosystems like rainforests because they probably contain useful things, in particular medicines. The classic challenge is "what if a plant goes extinct endangered species should not be protected essay could be the cure for cancer? The practice of exploring nature to find commercially useful products is called bioprospecting.

It does sometimes lead to useful new things, but it comes with a host of problems. The first is that we have plenty of ways to find new medicines, which don't involve trekking through thousands of miles of dangerous jungle in the faint hope of finding a miracle plant.

There is also the matter of who controls the knowledge. Often, local people are already aware of the medicinal uses of plants, and object to outsiders trying to co-opt them.

  • Due to ecotourism, people can see some rare and exotic species that they would never be able to see anywhere else;
  • The fact that some of us find nature beautiful, by itself, won't do Nature is beautiful, and that aesthetic value is a reason to keep it, just as we preserve artistic masterpieces like the Mona Lisa or Angkor Wat;
  • Another reason they are dying is because turtles mistake plastic items as food, that is why it is important to never litter;
  • It is affecting certain animal species at the North pole;
  • Bengal Tigers are another endangered animal, but unlike the South China Tiger, they still live in the wild.

Legal battles have been fought over this. And again, what happens to all the species that don't make useful things like medicines? The blood of mountain gorillas is unlikely to contain a cure for cancer. So this argument, while it has some force, doesn't get us very far. The big leap forward came in the 1990s, when biologists started outlining all the ways animals and plants benefit us just by being there.

Children

These benefits, which most of us take for granted, are called "ecosystem services". Many of our crop plants rely on these insects to produce seeds Some of these services are obvious. For instance, there are plants and animals that we eat. Meanwhile, photosynthetic plankton in the sea, and green plants, provide us with the oxygen we breathe. These are quite direct, but sometimes the services provided can be more subtle.

Pollinating insects like bumblebees are an obvious example. Many of our crop plants rely on these insects to produce seeds, and would not survive — let alone provide us with food — without them. This is why the decline in pollinating insects has provoked so much concern.

To understand how much we rely on ecosystem services, imagine a world where humans are the only species — perhaps in a spaceship far from Earth. It is far easier to let the existing wildlife do them for us There are no plants releasing oxygen, so you have to engineer a way to make it yourself. So straight away you need a chemical processing plant on board your ship. That same plant will have to make water too. There is also nothing to eat, so you must artificially make food.

You could synthesise chemicals like sugars and fats, but making it appetising would be extremely hard. As of 2015, we can't even make an artificial burger that everyone finds convincing.

Let's not even get started on the microorganisms living in your gut, many of which are beneficial. The point is that, while we could in theory do all these things artificially, it would be very difficult.

What is the point of saving endangered species?

It is far easier to let the existing wildlife do them for us. The scale of these ecosystem services, when you add them up, turns out to be extraordinarily large. They concluded that the benefits would outweigh the costs by a factor of 100. In other words, conserving nature is a staggeringly good investment. By contrast, letting species decline and go extinct looks like a bad move.

Siberian Tiger

You may perhaps be feeling that all this talk of economics and growth is strange. It's all rather cold and heartless, without any of the love for the natural world that we were talking about earlier. Well, many environmentalists feel the same way. View image of Humans are encroaching on the wild areas Credit: Monbiot argues that the valuations are unreliable, which allows those in power to rig the accounting however they see fit.

If someone wants to build a road through an important habitat, they can simply overestimate the benefits of the road and downplay those from the wildlife. Many conservation groups now support putting a value on ecosystems " Forests, fish stocks, biodiversity, hydrological cycles become owned, in effect, by the very interests — corporations, landlords, banks — whose excessive power is most threatening to them ," Monbiot wrote in 2013.

He may well be right that any such system would be open to abuse. The counter-argument is that without such a system, the abuse happens anyway — which is why many conservation groups now support putting a value on ecosystems. In fact, one of the good things about the idea of ecosystem services is that it is all-encompassing. As a result, the weaker arguments we mentioned before now start to make some sense. Take the idea that nature is beautiful and we should preserve it for its aesthetics and wonder.

Our pleasure at the beauty of nature can now be thought of as an ecosystem service.

  • We can't preserve nature without first figuring out how doing so will be good for humans So for our own good — both in terms of practical things like food and water, and less physical needs like beauty — we should protect them;
  • It is common knowledge that species are considered endangered if there is any risk of extinction, which can be caused by a number of factors including climatic changes and influence of humans;
  • And it is good that teachers at colleges and schools ask their students to write an endangered species essay;
  • Sea level has been growing over the past century, and the rate has risen in the recent decades;
  • Despite the reason why the endangered species become extinct, it looks like it is somehow triggered by the human activities which we need to rethink to save our planet;
  • It is common knowledge that species are considered endangered if there is any risk of extinction, which can be caused by a number of factors including climatic changes and influence of humans.

Nature provides us with beauty. If we value something and are prepared to pay to have it, then it has value You may well ask how we can put a price on that. How do you objectively measure beauty? Well, you can't, but that doesn't stop us deciding what it's worth. We do it all the time with paintings, music and other forms of art. If we value something and are prepared to pay to have it, then it has value. To do the same thing with nature, we just need a system that allows us to pay to experience it.

One simple example is safari holidays that take tourists to see mountain gorillas. This is called ecotourism. Ecotourism offers a way to make the beauty of nature pay for itself The people running those holidays have a clear incentive to keep the animals safe.

The gorillas are their livelihood, and running these tours may well pay better than other occupations like farming. Of course, this idea has its difficulties. Tourists bring unfamiliar diseases with them, which can pose a threat to the gorillas — although facemasks can help. Too many visitors can also disrupt gorilla societies.