The value of Biodiversity
Biodiversity has a fundamental value to humans because we are so dependent on it for our cultural, economic, and environmental well-being. Some argue that it is our moral responsibility to preserve the Earth's incredible diversity for the next generation. Others simply like knowing that nature's great diversity exists and that the opportunity to utilize it later, if need be, is secure. Scientists value biodiversity because it offers clues about natural systems that we are still trying to understand. Arguably, the greatest value to humans, however, comes from the ?ecosystem services? it provides. Biodiversity forms the backbone of viable ecosystems on which we depend on for basic necessities, security, and health. By breaking down plant and animal matter, for example, insects and other invertebrates make nutrients available to plants and are integral to the carbon and nitrogen cycles. Other species pollinate crops, an essential service for farmers. Healthy ecosystems can mitigate or prevent flooding, erosion, and other natural disasters. These ecosystem services also play a hand in the functioning of our climate and in both air and water quality. Elements of biodiversity can contribute to cultural identity, and many ecosystem characteristics are frequently incorporated into cultural traditions. For example, in folklore, local animals are used to symbolize societal values or to explain unusual events. Indigenous cultures sometimes recognize biodiversity's value in religious traditions based on honoring the Earth. Proximity to nature has also been shown to enhance emotional and spiritual well-being. Following along those lines, many simply believe that there is great value in the beauty of nature's diversity. Other facets of human well-being, such as health and economic and political security, can influence the value of biodiversity. Many arguments to increase efforts to conserve diversity often emphasize the value of the "un-mined riches"...
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