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Why Is Our Environment Important?

Why is Our Environment is Important?

The simplest explanation about why the environment matters is that, as humans, the environmentthe Earth-is our home. It is where we live, breathe, eat, raise our children, etc. Our entire life support system is dependent on the well-being of all of the species living on earth. This is commonly referred to as the biosphere, a term created by Vladimir Vernadsky, a Russian scientist in the 1920s.The biosphere refers to one global ecological system in which all living things are interdependent.

Food Chain
The food chain is an example of this. The sun provides light and heat for plants. The plants are consumed by animals who are in turn consumed by other animals who may in turn, be consumed by humans. Or perhaps they are used for material, clothing, etc. Even insects like mosquitoes play a role and of course bees pollinate plants.

Within the overall biosphere, or ecosystem, there are smaller ecosystems like the rainforests, marine ecosystems, the desert and the tundra. When any of these systems are off kilter, it impacts the entire planet. All of the environmental problems that exist have far-reaching implications for the health of our planet and its inhabitants. For example, global warming causes a rise in sea levels which effects marine life. The rising sea levels also cause land erosion which harms the habitats of animals living by the coast. Global warming also melts polar caps and leads to arctic shrinking. This endangers the polar bears and other arctic wildlife. Since the icecaps are made of fresh water, they will throw off the saline levels in the ocean which will affect ocean currents. Furthermore, the ice caps reflect light. As they disappear the Earth will get darker and absorb more heat increasing the Earth's temperature.

Threat of Environmental Degradation

The deterioration of the environment, often referred to as environmental degradation, threatens the earth's natural resources such as our clean water supply, fossil fuels for energy and food supply. Many of these resources are nonrenewable so when they run out we will be forced to find new alternatives.

Natural Beauty
Another reason why the environment is so important is because it is a source of natural beauty. According to Healthy nature healthy people: contact with nature as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations, a research paper written by Cecily Maller, Mardie Townsend, Anita Pryor, Peter Brown and Lawrence St Leger, nature plays a key role in human health and well-being. The paper even suggests that contact with nature might play a role in preventing mental illness. Unfortunately the planet is in danger. Many species of animals and plants are nearing distinction. Our clean water supply is at risk and more and more of our beautiful, open spaces are disappearing as new buildings and factories are built.

Why is the Environment so Important?

Our life-support system's health is maintained by all the species that make-up the biospherefrom the smallest to the largest (our biodiversity). The survival of all these species are interconnected and dependent on each other. Bacteria and insects break down organic material to produce soil and nutrients so plants can grow. Plants provide oxygen and food for animals and many other benefits. Bees, other insects, and animals pollinate the plants so they can reproduce and keep the cycle going. They also maintain the health of plants and spread their seeds. The actual processes that take place between species and the environment are extremely complex and vulnerable. If humanity causes the extinction of one speciesit's really the extinction of many species and the decline of our life-support system for ourselves and future generations. God's gift must not be taken for grantedit must be cared for. If not, humanity will face the grim consequences of its actions. Humanity has neglected to factor into the economic equation the tremendous benefits nature provides. Because the environment is our life-support system, it's impossible to truly estimate its value (it's priceless). However, economists and environmental scientists have estimated in dollars what it would cost us to accomplish the services nature provides. Using multiple databases, they estimate that nature provides $33 trillion dollars worth of services every yearthat's nearly twice the annual Gross National Product or GNP of all the countries in the world combined.1 For example, forests prevent soil erosion, landslides, and flooding; maintain the purity of the air and water; affect local and global rainfall; temper climatic fluctuations; and promote watersheds and biodiversity. By retaining the proper moisture content within their foliage and soil, healthy forests prevent local fires from becoming widespread. Unfortunately, this moisture content is declining from over harvesting and fragmentation. Consequently, large-scale fires are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the world. Other ecosystems like mangroves, wetlands, grasslands, shrubs, deserts, oceans, coral reefs, tundra-arctic regions, and so on provide similar and unique benefits. Biodiversity provides problem-solving raw materials for shelter and useful products, creates medicines, and allows us to pollinate and maintain healthy crops from being infested with harmful insects and diseases (without the need or hazards of chemicals or genetic engineering, which kill beneficial insects, additional wildlife, and plants). Although tropical forests contain some of the highest concentration of biodiversity on the planet, we destructively log more than 10 million acres of these forests each year (thats approximately the size of a football field every 4 seconds) and efforts to promote sustainable forestry are largely failing.2 Scientists agree that the best way to protect biodiversity is to protect and maintain habitat large enough to accommodate a healthy ecosystemtolerating small fragmented habitats will not preserve ecosystems or their biodiversity. Approximately 40% of all prescriptions in the U.S. are either based on or synthesized from natural compounds found in microorganisms, plants, and animals.3 The economic value provided by just plant-based anticancer drugs in the U.S. is over $250 billion annually.4 In addition to nature providing us with penicillin, aspirin, morphine, and steroids; the medicine Taxol, which fights breast and ovarian cancer, comes from the bark of the pacific yew tree; the foxglove plant provides the drug digitalis which boosts the pumping action of weak hearts; and the rosy periwinkle plant is used to fight Hodgkins disease and childhood leukemia. Other candidates providing promising medicines include deep-sea sponges,

tropical cone snails, dogfish sharks, the bark of the Holarrhena tree (found in Asia and Africa), and the plant Chonemorpha macrophylla (located in the foothills of the Himalayas). A microbe found in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park provided an enzyme for mass-producing DNA.5 Physician and biochemist Michael Zasloff, "Theres so much we dont know about the natural worldAnd were destroying large parts of it before we even appreciate our ignorance."6 The National Geographic Society writes: The fragile balance of plants and animals that share the Earth took millions of years to develop. Some life-forms have persisted in nearly their original state, surviving episodes of mass extinction. Some, like ourselves, are relative newcomers. The ones that have perished will not return. Neither will the thousands of species that are disappearing each year due in large part to such human influences as habitat destruction, introduction of invasive species, and overharvesting. If we continue reducing Earths biodiversity at this rate, the consequences will be profound. The web of life connects the smallest bacterium to the giant redwood and the whale. When we put that web in peril, we become agents of calamity.7 Furthermore, religions around the world have long understood that the beauty, diversity, and wonder of nature is humanity's physical link with Godencouraging us to develop a spiritual relationship with our Creator. The destruction of this link and our life-support system should enrage all of humanityespecially religious groupsstewards of God's creation. People who believe exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist. Kenneth Boulding

Environment and Economics

Why do we use economics in environment policy?
The main reason is that in our society the environment has become a scarce resource. Since economics is about how to deal with scarce resources, it can often be useful when tackling environmental problems. One way of using economics is to ensure that the costs and the benefits of environmental measures are well balanced. Although it is difficult to estimate costs and benefits, there is an increasing demand that this is done before environmental policy is decided on a European level. With the use of market-based instruments, environmental goals can sometimes be reached more efficiently than with traditional command and control regulations. Economic and environmental objectives are often perceived as being contradictory. It is believed that a choice must be made between one and the other and that both cannot be achieved concurrently. The facts and figures in this brochure (pdf ~1,5Mb) shows that they this perception is wrong, and that economy and environment can go together.