Personal tools
 
Views

Debate: Biodiversity and Endangered Species

From Debatepedia

Jump to: navigation, search
[Digg]
[reddit]
[Delicious]
[Facebook]

Should we be trying to prevent species becoming extinct? If so, why?

Contents

Background and Context of Debate:

'Biodiversity' means the variety of bacteria, plants, and animals that live on our planet. This includes the unique behavioural patterns and activities of each species. Biodiversity is an ecological concept discussed in many scientific circles. Many debates about biodiversity will ultimately boil down to how important this diversity is, either for its own sake, or for some specific human benefits. International agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aim to protect biodiversity. Issues linked to this debate about biodiversity will also arise in debates on genetically modified food and on animal welfare.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]

Exctinctions bad? Are species extinctions bad for the ecology of the earth?

[Add New]

Yes

Biodiversity is important to ecological stability, and this is threatened by excessive species extinctions: Biodiversity is the total range of life on Earth, the combined interactions of all living organisms that make up the fabric existence on the planet. Extinction of species will affect the biodiversity because the total range will then become less and less every time a specie becomes extinct. Life on Earth will be less. Besides, every specie have their own role to play on the planet, which makes them important.


[Add New]

No

The idea that extinctions will lead to ecological disaster is an exaggeration. Fossil evidence shows that mass extinctions have occurred many times throughout the history of life on earth, one of the most recent being the mass demise of the dinosaurs. After every collapse of biodiversity, it subsequently rebounded, with the earth coming to no lasting harm. Extinctions are simply part of the natural evolutionary process.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Responsibility? Do humans have the responsibility to protect other animals against extinction?

[Add New]

Yes

Humans have the unique ability to understand the value of protecting animals as well as the capacity to do so. The species Homo sapiens is unprecedented and unique among all life on earth. Human sentience and intelligence far surpass those of other creatures. These gifts have allowed human beings to populate the earth, construct industry, and affect the environment in a way that no other species can. This great power comes with great responsibility, and we should avoid abusing the earth, lest we cause irreparable damage - damage like the extinction of species and the consequent reduction in biodiversity cause by deforestation, over-fishing, hunting, the illegal trade in ivory and other species etc.

Protecting endangered species is an extension of our system of societal ethics. Just as modern civilisation protects its weaker and less able members, so humanity should safeguard the welfare of other less privileged species. Animals are sentient creatures whose welfare we should protect (even if they may not have the same full 'rights' that we accord to human beings).

As occupants of this planet, we must have respect for other life forms, especially since life on Earth may be the only life in the universe. We can show this respect by taking every effort we can to prevent the extinction of existing species, thereby preserving biodiversity.

[Add New]

No

No species on earth would put the interest of another species above its own, so why should human beings be any different? Furthermore, since the very beginnings of life, Nature has operated by the Darwinian principle of "survival of the fittest". Life forms that cannot keep up with the newest species on the block will always risk extinction, unless they adapt to the new challenge. Man has no obligation to save the weaker species; if they cannot match our pace, they deserve to die out and be supplanted by others.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Medicine and science: Is the protection of species important to human scientific and medicinal advancements?

[Add New]

Yes

Pharmaceutical developments depend on biodiversity: The most successful pharmaceuticals have often used Nature as a starting point. Antibiotics were first discovered through the study of fungi, and many anticancer drugs are derived from the bark of exotic Amazon trees. The larger the range of animals and plants in existence, the larger the array of potential medicinal discoveries. Every time a species becomes extinct, scientists forever lose an opportunity to make a new discovery via that species. There is, therefore, a societal-health interest in protecting species from extinction.

[Add New]

No

Modern science has advanced to the point where inspiration from Nature is no longer required. Today, medicines derived from natural products are in the minority. In any case, the upcoming era of genetic engineering will allow mankind to rid himself of disease without resorting to medicines.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section down]
[Move subquestion section up]

Economics: Is the protection of species in the economic interests of societies?

[Add New]

Yes

In the long-run, the preservation of the environment has major importance to economic sustainability: If we are assuming that extinctions are bad for the environment, and that the degradation of the environment is bad for an economies long-term interests, than extinctions can be concluded as bad for the economy in the long-run.

[Add New]

No

Biodiversity policies are financially costly and spend taxpayers' money that could be better used on healthcare and social services. It does not make sense for us to concentrate on other species when humanity has not yet sorted its own welfare out.

Environmental protection and the protection of biodiversity are very much a luxury of developed nations. Many of these policies are beyond the financial means of developing nations, and implementing them would stunt their economic growth and disenfranchise the population. It is hypocritical for the West to criticise the lack of environmental protection in the developing, considering that the West got to its current position through an industrial revolution that paid no heed to biodiversity and other such concerns.

[Edit]
[Delete Subquestion section]
[Add new subquestion section]
[Move subquestion section up]

Feasibility: Is it possible to implement protective policies in the world today?

[Add New]

Yes

With a globally coordinated solution, poorer nations could be aided in their adoption of these protective policies.

[Add New]

No

Environmental protection and the protection of biodiversity are very much a luxury of developed nations. Many of these policies are beyond the financial means of developing nations, and implementing them would stunt their economic growth and disenfranchise the population. It is hypocritical for the West to criticise the lack of environmental protection in the developing, considering that the West got to its current position through an industrial revolution that paid no heed to biodiversity and other such concerns.

References:

This article is based on a Debatabase entry written by Wu-Meng Tan. Because this document can be modified by any registered user of this site, its contents should be cited with care.

Motions:

  • This House believes in biodiversity
  • This House fears the way of the dodo

In legislation, policy, and the real world:

See also

External links and resources

Books:


Problem with the site? 

Tweet a bug on bugtwits
.