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July 22, 2014
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editorial

Biodiversity is beautiful


You might be tempted to think that the loss of a species here and there wouldn’t be noticed, but the truth is that we are not losing an occasional species. We are losing them at an alarming rate—at an estimated 50 to 100 times faster than the natural rate of extinction. The loss of individual species of a living, interrelated community impacts that system. This much we know from modern biological science.

Beyond science, however, there is another way to look at protecting biological diversity. Many religious faiths embrace the idea of stewardship, namely that we have been given the responsibility of stewards to protect the earth and its rich variety of life. Aboriginal and native peoples have long known about the interconnectedness that science reveals to us now. The spiritual path of these peoples recognized the oneness and harmony of all forms of life and also non-living forms (rocks, rivers, mountains, valleys, the moon and the sun. Where would life be without the sun?)

Feel free to make your own conclusion: whether you want to view the need to preserve biodiversity from the purely practical point of needing the goods and services derived from nature, or whether you embrace a deeper moral and spiritual responsibility, the action required is the same. We humans must staunch the primary causes of biodiversity loss—over-exploitation of natural resources, destruction of habitat, pollution and climate change.

It will take the will of individuals and also of society at large to make the necessary changes. It will take political will, too, and will require reassessing an economy that’s based on short-term results and on overconsumption of nature’s goods and services. There will be no short-term fixes. It will take long-term planning and sustained action to preserve biodiversity in all its beauty.