why is it important to save the environment

The Earth systems are under threat. Global warming, freshwater depletion, biodiversity reduction, hole in the ozone layer - are all examples of such threats. One has to ask oneself what can be done to stop this development. How serious is it really? And what is it actually possible to do to change the direction? Even though much of what is happening in the world today does not show it, we are totally dependent on the natural environment. Just because we as humans have the power to destroy environment and other species, this does not give us any right to do so. But more convincing to the ones having power in today's world is probably the economic argument. That we cannot afford to destroy the Earth systems. Attempts have been made to estimate the value of the services our environment give. This added up to 33 trillion USD (33 million millions) every year. This amount is nearly the double of the total world economy. The value of nature's flood and storm protection is calculated at 1. 1 trillion, and water and climate regulation at 4. 1 trillion USD. The value of the services provided by coral reefs is estimated at 375 billion $/year. But these coral reefs are destroyed at an alarming rate. In 1992 10 % had permanently been destroyed and this grew to 27 % in 2002.
Why Do We Have to Protect the Environment?


What are we doing wrong? Mostly the problem is destruction of habitat by: What are some of the consequences? People don't like to be ridiculed as environmental wackos or tree huggers. But it is important to care about the environment. Thoughtful people can care about the environment and at the same time see the need to exploit or use nature for resources to satisfy the needs of our species. The human species needs food and water. We need energy. But we also need to protect the ecosystem niches that make survival of our species possible. Beyond that, we need to protect the niches for other species too. Why do niches need protection?. Ecosystems are complicated. We have seen in these lessons that complexity grows as we move up the ladder from cells to organ systems to ecosystems. The history of our attempts to manipulate ecosystems shows that we often make mistakes and fail to see the unintended consequences of our actions. Rich ecosystems are those with many occupied niches. A change in any one niche is likely to affect other niches and their occupant species. Extinction is forever. We don't get a second chance. Especially our lakes and oceans have become dumping grounds for dangerous chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, oil and refinery products, industrial wastes, and heavy metals). Some of these toxins actually concentrate in food webs, such as mercury in fish.


Our species owes its existence to the living world that we share with other species. We owe the living world a chance to perpetuate the life-creating processes of natural selection, population dynamics, and exchange cycles. We can only pay this debt by protecting the environment. We humans are doing well as a species (see graph below). But our success comes at the expense of other species. The predicts that 25% of all the earth's species of mammals may become extinct in the next 30 years. Over 10% of the bird species face extinction in that time. Many people in the world like to blame industrialized nations, especially the United States, for destroying world ecosystems. It is true that industrialized countries create much of the air pollution. But the problem will not be cured by treaties that punish American companies for air pollution when competing companies in other countries are exempt from regulation. The really frightening prospect is the rapid pace of industrialization in many Third World countries where unregulated industries expand to serve the growth of the already huge populations. China has 1. 2 billion people. India has about 1 billion people. What will world pollution be like when countries like these become fully industrialized and modernized?


People who wish to protect the environment often become politically active. They may come to believe that animals, and even plants, have rights. What do you think? The idea of rights originally came from perceived inequalities in power and privilege among humans. Rights are something we United States citizens have to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. To extend the idea of rights across species quickly creates problems for ecosystems. Does the wolf have a right to kill sheep? Or do sheep have a right to be protected from predators? Does any species have a right to use Nature's resources to perpetuate itself as a species? Does a species have a right to destroy niches of other species in the process of exploiting nature for survival of the species? And if we could agree on any of these rights, we must answer the question, Who issued these rights? To argue in the political terms of rights misses the point about how Nature's ecosystems work. Competition between and within species is not only natural but necessary for ecosystems to function well. Competition and exercise of power becomes a problem only when it is so destructive that an ecosystem itself becomes threatened. Because humans have the greatest power to damage ecosystems, humans also have the greatest duty to protect ecosystems.

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