Introduction Box 1 Human Population and Conservation Introduction Box 2 Ecoethics

Abstract

Our actions have put humanity into a deep environmental crisis. We have destroyed, degraded, and polluted Earth’s natural habitats – indeed, virtually all of them have felt the influence of the dominant species. As a result, the vast majority of populations and species of plants and animals – key working parts of human life support systems – are in decline, and many are already extinct. Increasing human population size and consumption per person (see Introduction Box 1) have precipitated an extinction crisis – the “sixth mass extinction”, which is comparable to past extinction events such as the CretaceousTertiary mass extinction 65 million years ago that wiped out all the dinosaurs except for the birds. Unlike the previous extinction events, which were attributed to natural catastrophes including volcanic eruptions, meteorite impact and global cooling, the current mass extinction is exclusively humanity’s fault. Estimates indicate that numerous species and populations are currently likely being extinguished every year. But all is not lost – yet. Being the dominant species on Earth, humans have a moral obligation (see Introduction Box 2) to ensure the long-term persistence of rainforests, coral reefs, and tidepools as well as saguaro cacti, baobab trees, tigers, rhinos, pandas, birds of paradise, morpho butterflies, and a plethora of other creatures. All these landmarks and life make this planet remarkable – our imagination will be bankrupt if wild nature is obliterated – even if civilization could survive the disaster. In addition to moral and aesthetic reasons, we have a selfish reason to preserve nature – it provides society with countless and invaluable goods and absolutely crucial services (e.g. food, medicines, pollination, pest control, and flood protection). Habitat loss and pollution are particularly acute in developing countries, which are of special concern because these harbor the greatest species diversity and are the richest centers of endemism. Sadly, developing world conservation scientists have found it difficult to afford an authoritative textbook of conservation biology, which is particularly ironic, since it is these countries where the rates of habitat loss are highest and the potential benefits of superior information in the hands of scientists and managers are therefore greatest. There is also now a pressing need to educate the next generation of conservation biologists in developing countries, so that hopefully they are in a better position to protect their natural resources. With this book, we intend to provide cutting-edge but basic conservation science to developing as well as developed country inhabitants. The contents of this book are freely available on the web. Since ourmain aim is tomake up-to-date conservation knowledge widely available, we have invited many of the top names in conservation biology towrite on specific topics. Overall, this book represents a project that the conservation community has deemed worthy of support by donations of time and effort. None of the authors, including ourselves, will gain financially from this project. It is our hope that this book will be of relevance and use to both undergraduate and graduate students as well as scientists, managers, and personnel in non-governmental organizations. The book should have all the necessary topics to become a required reading for various undergraduate and graduate conservation-related courses. English is

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Sodhi2011IntroductionB1, title={Introduction Box 1 Human Population and Conservation Introduction Box 2 Ecoethics}, author={Navjot S . Sodhi and Paul R . Ehrlich}, year={2011} }