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Is nature worth conserving?

Watch this video to learn the two main arguments for conserving nature: a moral argument and an economic argument.

Why should you conserve the natural world?

If the answer to this question seems obvious, you might be surprised to discover that there are a variety of different points of view.

This video shows the different ways that people value the natural environment. It introduces two main arguments for conserving nature: a moral argument and an economic argument.

The moral argument

Humans have a significant impact on life on Earth. Around 27,000 species are known to be threatened because of human activity – and hundreds, if not thousands, are probably going extinct every year. However, these species have as much of a right to live as we do.

The moral argument suggests we should take action to conserve nature because it is a good thing to do, and because we are the cause of its decline.

The economic argument

Life on Earth provides humans with the resources needed to survive. The natural world provides us with water to drink, air to breathe, and food to eat. These are known as ecosystem services. Worldwide, bees are estimated to contribute £170bn to the economy each year. What would happen to the economy if bees were suddenly to disappear?

This argument for conserving nature highlights the economic value that ecosystems contribute to human beings.

Have your say:

Think about the different perspectives discussed in the video and then consider the following questions:
  • Which of these arguments do you find most convincing, and why?
  • Are you surprised to hear perspectives different from your own? If so, can you describe why?
  • What impact might these arguments have on how conservation biologists prioritise different species for conservation?
Share and discuss your responses with other learners in the Comments section. Do you have similar reasons for agreeing with either argument? Do responses from other learners make you reconsider or see a new perspective on the argument?

Need to develop your discussion skills for this activity? Join Learning Online: Communicating and Collaborating to improve your communication skills for learning online.

This article is from the free online

Ecology and Wildlife Conservation

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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