Even if you don’t consider environmentalism a factor in why we should care about losing biodiversity, there are several reasons to care anyway. Perhaps in the future mankind will be good enough to replicate nature for our own needs enough to not need natural life to help us but in the present that is not the case.
While most of our food comes from a small number of species, there is huge diversity in the types of life that humans can eat. Losing these species would make it harder for remote places to substitute their diets with other sources of food. There are 40,000 different species of plants that humans eat around the world. I would imagine that in many places it would be difficult to find replacements for vitamins if some of those species became extinct.
The huge range of species on Earth are also essential for other uses too. Medicines, even modern ones, are often made by extracting chemicals from plants. Insects are a fundamental part of the food chain and it would be catastrophic if their was a significant altering of the insect ecosystem.
That’s not even considering ocean life, which produces most of our oxygen. There are probably thousands of species underwater that we haven’t even discovered yet. It’s unknown how much of a role they might play in the planets web of life. Who knows, some new fish might hold the cure to a disease.
Our scientific knowledge of manipulating life is not good enough for us to survive without Earth’s ecosystem already in place. Someday we might be able to ‘create’ all the species we need but at this point we are dependent on what is already ‘available’.
There is no meaningful way to economically quantify the value of biodiversity. The only way to evaluate biodiversity is to understand that it is crucial to our own survival on this planet – something that should carry with it a very high price tag indeed.
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