Nov 10, 2017 in Ethics

Bioethics

Due to the active development of industry, science and technology, many people have already begun to fear for the safety of our planet. In fact, they fear not only for running processes, such as the depletion of atmosphere due to carbon dioxide emissions, pollution of rivers and other freshwater bodies, but rather for catastrophic events that can instantly devastate the entire planet. Yes, humanity has already accumulated such a power which can independently eliminate people destroying the entire planet.

People thought about the risk of a global catastrophe for the first time when nuclear weapons were invented. During the Cold War, the entire planet was at a great risk, and literally hang on the verge of death. After all, nuclear weapons could instantly destroy large numbers of people, plunging the planet into an abyss of malignant transformation, the result of which would be a nuclear winter. However, in the modern world, a major risk factor of global catastrophe is not only radiation.

Biodiversity – or biological diversity – means the variability of living organisms in all their manifestations: from genes to the biosphere. All types of biological diversity are interrelated: for example, a genetic diversity provides a variety of species. Ecosystems and landscapes create conditions for the formation of new species. Increased species diversity influences the overall genetic potential of living organisms of the biosphere. Each type contributes to the diversity – from this point of view, there are no useless and harmful species. In fact, people proved to be one from the last category. Undoubtedly, the distribution of species on the planet's surface is uneven. As a result, people devastate different territories to get more space for themselves. The variety of species in their natural habitat (e.g. tropics) decreases with an increasing latitude. The richest species diversity ecosystems – tropical rain forests, which cover about 7% of the planet's surface and contain more than 90% of all species – are being constantly cut down in order to suffice human needs.

The geological history of the earth constantly faced the appearance and disappearance of species in the biosphere – all of them have a finite lifetime. Still, usually extinction was compensated by new species, and as a result, the total number of species in the biosphere grew. Extinction was a natural process of evolution, which used to occur without human intervention. However, currently, under the influence of anthropogenic factors, there is the loss of biological diversity through the elimination (extinction, annihilation) of species. In the last century, under the influence of human activities the species extinction rate was many times higher than the natural one (estimated at 40,000 times). Humanity caused an irreversibly uncompensated destruction of a unique gene pool of the planet.

A human being has always used the environment mainly as a source of resources, and for a very long time, his work had no significant impact on the biosphere. Only at the end of the last century changes in the biosphere under the influence of economic activity gained the attention of scientists. In the first half of this century, these changes increased and now as an avalanche they fell on a human civilization. In order to improve their living conditions, people are constantly increasing rates of material production, without considering the consequences. With this approach, most of the natural resources are taken from the planet and returned as a waste, often toxic or unsuitable for recycling. This poses a threat to the existence of both biosphere and a human being. Never before was our planet subjected to the ravages of human activities on the ecosystem of the planet. Right now a man needs to choose whether to go ahead and face an abyss which was created by people or to stop and change their attitude to nature and to the resources. This choice will influence not only our future, but the future of our children. Will people create a future without global cataclysms? Will they be able to stop the impending threat? These are questions which humanity needs to answer.

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