Tuesday, July 8, 2008

We Should All Be Environmentalists

Environmentalists have not successfully convinced everyone that Nature needs preserving. I believe that this is mainly because many of us perceive the rest of the natural world as something of lesser value than ourselves and what we can make from it.

We are also apparently either unaware or in denial of the fact that other species provide critical infrastructure for our activities. Breathable air, drinkable water, livable temperature, and fertile soil are but a few of the “products” we get for a modest cost: namely, letting other species live without interference. Even if we had the technology, energy, and will to replace this infrastructure, we would need to more than double the size of the world’s economy; and all we would get for the effort is what we already have.

One argument for continuing our decimation of other species is that there are so many of them that they won’t be missed. Such an argument is based on a faulty premise; in fact, we are responsible for the largest rate of extinction known, equivalent to that of a large asteroid impact. Whether or not global warming adds to the effect, which it almost certainly will, the loss of natural infrastructure is already large enough to be hurting us.

The situation will only get worse until we all become environmentalists. We must not only work to preserve what’s left, but allow natural systems to regenerate themselves to repair the damage we have caused.

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