Research into Biodiversity Divide Biologists

High biodiversity is a financial incentive, points out some research. Other researchers, however, disagree. They fear that the desire to prove biodiversity makes research in this area untrustworthy.

DENMARK – Should we stop the extinction of reptiles, mammals and butterflies for nature?  And it’s really most useful for people to have a diverse flora and fauna around us or dispose of it?

Biology researchers can usually agree that man is to blame for many plant and animal species are in danger of becoming extinct.

A common argument for throwing money at preserving as much as possible for such a rich flora and fauna is that it is useful for us humans to have many animals, plants and organisms around us.

Some research suggests that biodiversity can pay off for people and the United Nations has a special focus on the services ecosystems provide.

But a number of researchers are critical for such argument.

According to critical scholars are the many articles in prestigious journals such as Nature and Science most reflects the fact that both scientists and politicians want so much to be able to argue that investment in biodiversity can pay off, it’s hard to be critical on the manner of reasoning.

And it may mean that the research is biased.

Associate Professor Hans Henrik Bruun, who studies the ecology and biodiversity at the University of Copenhagen, believes that North America and Europe have subjected a lot of resources for investigating whether species diversity leads to a ‘better’ function of ecosystems. However, he senses “that there is a hidden agenda, and that is enough for me as a researcher is concerned about research findings.”

It is not only Hans Henrik Bruun, who are concerned about research objectivity.

Also senior researcher Rasmus Ejrnæs sees a trend that the main argument for biodiversity among politicians, the media and scientists is that we humans will benefit from it.

He believes that the criticism of the studies proving biodiversity beneficial effect has been given little attention.

“Consensus team (those that focus on biodiversity beneficial effect, ed.) Will have power, influence and research by publishing something, the political establishment would like to believe is true.  And I think it is embarrassing for the editors of the world’s highest estimated scientific journals that they publish it without a skeptical approach,” says senior researcher Rasmus Ejrnæs from the Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University.

Instead, there are many indications that the idea that biodiversity is absolutely essential for people are something that, consciously or unconsciously, forms the research, says Rasmus Ejrnæs.

“It pervades everything we do: the way one provider research, the way a journal sorts of articles, the way scientists sorts in their questions, the way the copy editor sorts in the news.  There will be sorted so that the things we really think is right get much attention, “says Rasmus Ejrnæs.

Research has among other things, argued that biodiversity loss can have an impact equivalent to the emission of ozone and CO , and developed a system that points to the limits of how much people can take advantage of the situation before it goes wrong.

People are doing fine without high biodiversity

When Rasmus Ejrnæs and Hans Henrik Bruun is concerned that research is biased, because it also means that they simply do not believe that biodiversity is especially useful for people.

They both advocates in taking care of nature and biodiversity, and they also believe that people need nature.

But it is a very small part of biodiversity that are directly useful, scientists believe. The biggest part is not only useless, it is threatened by agriculture and forestry, which are useful for people.

Morten DD Hansen, a curator at the Natural History Museum in Aarhus, agrees.

“Many believe that the Earth is one big continuous machine.  As an airplane, where you can remove a nut, and then fly further, but if one day you remove the critical nut, it drops down from the sky. Of course we cannot continue to eradicate species, but right now we are not near the critical nuts,” said Morten DD Hansen.

Utility cannot be used as an argument for biodiversity

The three researchers have for example difficulty understanding that many argue that we need many different animal and plant species, now Denmark, which is one of the richest countries in the world, is also one of the countries has done most of the farming.  Our exploitation of nature has wiped out many species, while it has made us richer. This, the researchers show in practice that it is not necessary with many species to achieve the tangible benefits we want.

“I think basically that one cannot use the utility as a reason to maintain diversity of species, for there are so insanely many species, and not filling each and every one a feature that is important for us humans,” says Hans Henrik Bruun and adds:

“Conserving biodiversity must necessarily start with the rarest and most endangered species. And a rare species in all probability very little effect in the ecosystem.”

Instead, consider the three critics that the argument for preserving biodiversity should be that it is experienced as meaningful to make room for a diverse nature, rather than people destroy nature and eradicates species.

‘The challenge is that we do not expect that’ the good ‘that argument can stand alone, and so we put it into the rational reasons for doing good.  It provokes me that my colleagues do not believe enough in the matter itself to want to leave it alone,” said Morten DD Hansen, adding:

“Ultimately it’s all about, it is the finance ministers, who have the power and they will see that something worthwhile.  Therefore we are told that we must talk economists’ language, but I believe that economists should learn to speak my language.”

Moral and efficiency are not contradictory

And it’s been time to hear some of those who have a slightly different view of the research that shows that biodiversity is useful.

One of them is Professor Katherine Richardson. She studies in oceanography and biodiversity at Copenhagen University and has worked to show biodiversity beneficial effects.

She believes that utility argument exclude that there is a moral obligation to preserve biodiversity. For her it is not a question of either-or.

“I think the critics feel that if you talk avail so, dilute the argument that we need to preserve biodiversity, because we are morally obliged to do so.  I pretty much agree that it draws attention away from the moral argument, but the argument does not sell in the forums that are important to get something through in this discussion,” said Katherine Richardson.

She is not even in doubt that biodiversity is useful.

“We have to maintain the total activity in the biosphere, for we depend on biology activities.  That, I do not think is problematic to point out.  We have no idea what species we can do without,” said Katherine Richardson.

“It is not the environment that wins when there’s economy at stake.”

When Katherine Richardson was asked about whether the researchers unilaterally trying to prove biodiversity is beneficial, she replied:

“You have to choose a form of reasoning, and it is not the environment for the sake of the environment, wins when there are economic decisions in the game.  We get nowhere by arguing for biodiversity in international fora, when we only talked moral.  There is only a political, when you get kicked on the shin.”

She stresses, however, that she did not believe that research into the so-called ‘ecosystem services’ alone should be based on economic, because, as she said:

“Of course evolution has not taken into account human economy.”

Source: Sedsel Brøndum Lange,

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