Many of the life forms that we share Earth with, and that evolved alongside us, are threatened with extinction because we are damaging the environment that they live in or because we are harvesting too much of them for our use.
There are philosophical and practical reasons why the loss of other species and ecosystems should concern us.
we share Earth with them
The species that we are eliminating have evolved with us; we are all part of the integrated whole of life on Earth . We, humanity, share a common ancestry with all life on Earth and,
indeed, with the non-living parts of Earth itself from which all life developed, and with the Universe that produced the Solar System and Earth. As much as there is such a thing as a right
, other life forms have a right to continue to exist alongside us as they always have since the beginning of Earth . As much as there is such a thing as a responsibility , we have a
responsibility to ensure that we don't greatly reduce or eliminate other species, including, ultimately, ourselves.
they contribute to our emotional well being
We have an emotional connection with the species that we share Earth with and with the environments that they comprise. This emotional connection is integral to us and is part of our
evolutionary heritage . It comes from our human and pre-human ancestry in which it was advantageous to have an attachment with the place where we lived, where we made our living, and to
which we were best adapted and most likely to survive.
they provide things that we need
The species that we share Earth with in the web of interactions that make up the biosphere perform many functions in the environment that we rely on, and provide us with many of the resources that we need by collecting many of the basic, fundamental, resources on our behalf.
Plants collect fundamental resources such as sunlight, carbon dioxide, water, and minerals, and convert them into the oxygen that we need to breathe, and complex materials that we use for food, materials, and fuel.
Animals collect fundamental resources such as oxygen and water, and complex resources such as plants, and convert them into even more complex materials that we use for food and materials. For a lot of humanity (and for all of us in the not-to-distant past) they also do physical work for us.
The species that we share Earth with provide us with many of the medicines that we use to extend our lives and to improve our comfort.
how biodiversity is lost
Other species have unknowingly caused mass-extinctions in the past; however, we, humanity, are the only living things that have come to understand the depth and breadth of the consequences of our actions, and to understand that we are causing extinctions, an understanding that increases our responsibility for the consequence of those actions.
The ways that humanity reduces biodiversity mostly fall into two groups: through directly harvesting species, and through habitat destruction.
directly harvesting species
Humanity may directly target particular species and take too many of them for that species to exist in sufficient number to continue.
In the modern world this applies particularly to marine animals and to some large, mostly African, land animals that have not been very susceptible to human predation in the past, until modern weapon technology was developed.
Humanity has brought many species to near extinction by damaging and destroying the habitat that those species live in and that they are part of.
Humanity's ever-increasing population and consumption, and ever-growing global economic activities create a huge and growing human domination of the surface of Earth, supplanting Earth's natural environments and the living thing that comprise them.
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