Loss of Biodiversity destroys our cultural identity
CBD 10 [Convention on Biological Diversity “Sustaining Life on Earth” http://www.cbd.int/convention/guide/?id=changing]
The reduction in biodiversity also hurts us in other ways. Our cultural identity is deeply rooted in our biological environment. Plants and animals are symbols of our world, preserved in flags, sculptures, and other images that define us and our societies. We draw inspiration just from looking at nature's beauty and power. While loss of species has always occurred as a natural phenomenon, the pace of extinction has accelerated dramatically as a result of human activity. Ecosystems are being fragmented or eliminated, and innumerable species are in decline or already extinct. We are creating the greatest extinction crisis since the natural disaster that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. These extinctions are irreversible and, given our dependence on food crops, medicines and other biological resources, pose a threat to our own well-being. It is reckless if not downright dangerous to keep chipping away at our life support system. It is unethical to drive other forms of life to extinction, and thereby deprive present and future generations of options for their survival and development.
Diner, 1994 (Major David Diner head of the JAG Corps, United States Army. Winter 1994, Military Law Review, 143 Mil. L. Rev. 161, p. 170-173)
Why Do We Care? -- No species has ever dominated its fellow species as man has. In most cases, people have assumed the God-like power of life and death -- extinction or survival -- over the plants and animals of the world. For most of history, mankind pursued this domination with a single-minded determination to master the world, tame the wilderness, and exploit nature for the maximum benefit of the human race. In past mass extinction episodes, as many as ninety percent of theexisting species perished, and yet the world moved forward, and new species replaced the old. So why should the world be concerned now? The prime reason is the world’s survival.Like all animal life, humans live off of other species. At some point, the number of species could decline to the point at which the ecosystem fails, and then humans also would become extinct. No one knows how many species the world needs to support human life, and to find out -- by allowing certain species to become extinct -- would not be sound policy. In addition to food, species offer many direct and indirect benefits to mankind. 2. Ecological Value. -- Ecological value is the value that species have in maintaining the environment. Pest, erosion, and flood control are prime benefits certain species provide to man. Plants and animals also provide additional ecological services -- pollution control, oxygen production, sewage treatment, and biodegradation. 3. Scientific and Utilitarian Value. -- Scientific value is the use of species for research into the physical processes of the world. Without plants and animals, a large portion of basic scientific research would be impossible. Utilitarian value is the direct utility humans draw from plants and animals. Only a fraction of the earth’s species have been examined, and mankind may someday desperately need the species that it is exterminating today. To accept that the snail darter, harelip sucker, or Dismal Swamp southeastern shrew could save mankind may be difficult for some. Many, if not most, species are useless to man in a direct utilitarian sense. Nonetheless, they may be critical in an indirect role, because their extirpations could affect a directly useful species negatively. In a closely interconnected ecosystem, the loss of a species affects other species dependent on it. Moreover, as the number of species decline, the effect of each new extinction on the remaining species increases dramatically. 4. Biological Diversity. -- The main premise of species preservation is that diversity is better than simplicity. As the current mass extinction has progressed, the world’s biological diversity generally has decreased. This trend occurs within ecosystems by reducing the number of species, and within species by reducing the number of individuals. Both trends carry serious future implications. Biologically diverse ecosystems are characterized by a large number of specialist species, filling narrow ecological niches. These ecosystems inherently are more stable than less diverse systems. “The more complex the ecosystem, the more successfully it can resist a stress. . . . [l]ike a net, in which each knot is connected to others by several strands, such a fabric can resist collapse better than a simple, unbranched circle of threads -- which if cut anywhere breaks down as a whole.” By causing widespread extinctions, humans have artificially simplified many ecosystems. As biologic simplicity increases, so does the risk of ecosystem failure. The spreading Sahara Desert in Africa, and the dustbowl conditions of the 1930s in the United States are relatively mildexamples of what might be expected if this trend continues. Theoretically, each new animal or plant extinction, with all itsdimly perceived and intertwined affects, could cause total ecosystem collapse and human extinction. Each new extinction increases the risk of disaster. Like a mechanic removing, one by one, the rivets from an aircraft’s wings, mankind [humankind] may be edging closer to the abyss. Biodiversity is key to preventing human extinction
As more species go extinct, it becomes more likely for ecosystems to collapse. Given how many species are endangered, it is difficult to put an upper limit on how severe the ecosystem collapses could be. The collapses could be so severe that human extinction is threatened. The current honey bee colony collapse situation illustrates this. Without honey bees, humans would struggle - and perhaps fail - to grow many important crops. As more biodiversity is lost, we may find ourselves learning the hard way how important it is to our civilization and indeed our very survival.