Title: "Should humans attempt to protect all species?"

Essay by kwangtiUniversity, Bachelor'sA, March 2003

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"Should human attempt to protect all species?"


The discussion of whether humanity should attempt to protect all species started upon the recognition of the increasing harm humanity have brought upon the environment and the fear of mass extinction. Scientists are engaged in several efforts around the world to identify and number undiscovered species, and many environment laws, such as the Endangered Species Act of 1973, focus on preventing their disappearance or extinction.

The term "biodiversity"- short for biological diversity- was first used in the 1980s by scientists to refer to the richness of biological variation on Earth or within a particular region. (1) Biodiversity is an important environmental resource. Humans depend on other species for food, clothing, wood, medicines and other necessities and comfort of living. Domesticated strains of crop plants and animals are continually interbred with their wild "cousins" to introduce new genetic combinations that can improve yields, drought tolerance, and disease and pest resistance.

On top of that, endangered species of plants and animals may have properties yet to be discovered that could provide important medicines. In addition to such direct benefits, the world's diverse living creatures working in concert provide important ecological services such as air and water purification, climate regulation, erosion control, and providing oxygen in the atmosphere that humans need to breathe. Some ecologists also stress the aesthetic value of natural world rich with an abundance of varied and often beautiful life-forms.

These important benefits conferred by biodiversity may be at risk, some believe. Conservationists have classified 8000 species as endangered, and the true number of species nearing extinction may be much higher. Scientists such as Denis Saunders of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) estimate that 70,000 species become extinct each year - almost 200 a day. Also, many argue...