Chapter 5: Tangible Benefits
1. INTRODUCTION Although it is axiomatic, it is necessary to point out the obvious which is that humanity exists because of the Earth, its ecosystems and the species upon it – not the other way around. The well-being of every human population in the world is fundamentally and directly dependent upon non-human species and ecosystems in local, regional, and global contexts. Since the beginning of human time, humanity has prospered from the direct conversion and utilization of these resources. This pattern has not changed in the 21st century. From the food we eat to the purified air we breathe, biodiversity and ecosystems contribute both directly and indirectly to the success, if not the very existence, of humanity.1 This chapter is about the tangible benefits that biodiversity provides to humanity. Chapter 6 is about the intangible benefits. In this chapter, the focus is upon direct benefits (including those of genetic modification) and indirect benefits (at the macro, micro, and keystone levels). The economic value of all of these benefits, especially via tourism, is the foremost example of the tangible benefits of biodiversity. 2. DIRECT BENEFITS Direct anthropocentric self-interest is the most commonly touted reason to protect the environment. The broad rubric of self-interest encompasses a multitude of reasons. However, for the purpose of this chapter, I shall draw on the more direct benefits to humanity from nature. This broad idea of self-interested conservation has a long history as a justification to protect species.2 It first appeared in the Old Testament when God...
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