When choosing how to allocate resources for conservation, or even whether to allocate resources for conservation, it isn’t just science we need to base our choices on, but ethical values too. Should we be making more sacrifices in our daily lives so biodiversity is protected for future generations? Should we be putting resources into conservation which could be used to help the world’s poor? Do we prioritise species because they are charismatic, or because they are useful?
Thanks to everyone who answered my Why is biodiversity important questions and added comments underneath. I often find myself in situations where I consider conservation values and will think back to the answers you gave.
Interestingly, there was a relatively even divide between people who thought biodiversity should be protected for its own sake and those who thought it should be protected for the sake of humans (though WordPress needs to retake its maths GCSE). However, there weren’t many yeses to the question: if you could release a single species that would wipe out many others so reduce biodiversity, but would increase human happiness, would you do it?
To me, this is a contradiction. If you are protecting biodiversity for the sake of humans then you should be willing to sacrifice species for the sake of people. But is this apparent discrepancy in answers because actually doing something to damage biodiversity is worse than failing to do something to save it? Or because some people had interpreted this as only the happiness of people alive today? I had given my answer of yes based on the assumption that future generations would benefit too. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
After a fascinating discussion with my book group last week, I have a new question to add:
In the conservation world the answer is very clear, and I have already blogged about eliminating rats as if it is foregone conclusion it’s a good idea. I look forward to your opinions.
I’m also reading The Value of Species, and failing to be convinced by his arguments of why every species is important. However, he made a very salient point that anything we sacrifice a species for is rather short-lived in comparison to the species. A housing development or some goats you don’t want to kill aren’t going to be around for millennia.
So many things to consider! Thanks for joining in the discussion.