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Sample IELTS Essay: Should Humans Preserve Wildlife and Plants?
Many wildlife and plant species have entered the endangered species list because of human activities. Thousands more have gone extinct for the same reason. These alarming numbers showcase the urgent need for preservation to protect various species from disappearing. However, this issue remains inferior to the economic and global crises that exist today. Some even argue that there is no need for preservation since it is a natural process. While there is truth to this claim, there is more than one reason for preservation. Humans possess the capacity to save, neglect, or exterminate wildlife and plants, implying a moral obligation towards these species.
Effects of Climate Change
Environmentally-destructive human actions have led to the rapid development of climate change . This created rising temperatures, unpredictable weather, and significant changes in natural processes. While there are eco-friendly initiatives that aim to slow down these effects, humans cannot do anything to stop the changes (Is it too Late, n.d.). Climate change is an irreversible event and humans can only mitigate the factors that contribute to its rapid development. As such, arguments arose regarding the insignificance of wildlife and plant preservation. Since climate change is irreversible, then any attempt to preserve affected species is impractical. These species will eventually die out since they cannot survive the effects of climate change.
Alternatively, there is also the concept of adaptation from the evolution theory. Species can develop adaptive characteristics that could help them survive climate change. For humans, adaptation takes the form of environment-friendly ways of living and preparing for unpredictable climates. For animals, adaptation relies on the development of specific characteristics that can help them survive. For instance, some animals have developed thicker and larger appendages that help release excess body heat (Ryding et al., 2021). This allows the animals to survive warmer climates and continue to reproduce. Since animals have this ability, some argue that preservation is unnecessary as those with better survival traits will thrive. Preserving species that have less desirable survival characteristics may even be counterproductive since they will struggle to survive climate change. They may need constant human intervention which can be impractical for both animals and humans.
Requisites for Human Survival
It is common to hear that humans need wildlife and animals to survive. Some proponents of preservation claim that the extinction of various species can be detrimental to humanity. While there is some truth to the sentiment, the general idea that humans need wildlife and plants is false (Safina, 2019). Extinction is a natural process and thousands of species have disappeared since civilization began. Despite the disappearances of these species, human civilization continued to prosper. Even today, if the remaining 75 Javan Rhinoceros disappear, it will have minimal to no effect on human progress and human life. Conservationists and the public may raise their concerns about preservation but society will remain unchanged.
Furthermore, there is a short list of necessities that humans need to continue modern living. According to Safina (2019), the modern way of living only needs microbes of decay, a few insect pollinators, photosynthesizing plankton, water, the atmosphere, and other non-living things. Most wildlife and plants are unnecessary to retain humans’ standard of living, supporting the argument that preservation is irrelevant. Thousands of wildlife and plants can disappear today and as long as the necessities remain, there may be no need for action. There is also humanity’s capacity for innovation which allows them to find better alternatives. For instance, if insect pollinators disappear, humans can create artificial pollination methods.
Importance of Healthy Ecosystems
For the proponents of preservation, wildlife and plant species are important because they play a role in the ecosystem. Healthy ecosystems ensure that living things have clean water, clean air, enough nutrients, healthy soil, and other essential factors for survival (Wilson & Bernstein, 2010). Certain wildlife and plant species are necessary to maintain these ecosystems. Their disappearances can lead to massive changes that may affect the quality of water, nutrients, and other resources. Wilson & Bernstein (2010) even noted that while ecosystems can adapt to extinction, the disappearance can have unforeseen and destructive effects. A specific animal or plant may be playing a vital role in an ecosystem and their extinction could lead to an imbalance.
An example of this is the extinction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Human activities, such as agriculture and hunting, led to the disappearance of wolves in the local ecosystem. The disappearance led the local elk population to increase rapidly. The overcrowded elk population fed on the local vegetation, leading to food shortages in the ecosystem. To return the balance, humans reintroduced wolves in Yellowstone National Park (Peterson, 2020). The reintroduction controlled the elk population by returning their natural predator. If humans did not reintroduce the wolves, Yellowstone National Park would have lost most of its vegetation, and eventually its wildlife.
Moral Obligation to Preserve
Another argument in support of preservation is humans’ moral obligation to wildlife and plants. Humans can preserve wildlife and plant species through action or inaction, thus giving them a moral obligation. Even the U.S. created the Endangered Species Act to establish this obligation legally. According to Safina (2019), the act does not argue that humans need wildlife and plants. Instead, it promotes cross-species stewardship and morality. Allowing a certain species to disappear because of human activities and neglect is morally wrong. Regardless of wildlife and plant species’ ability to adapt, endangered species should receive protection. Human progress and economic growth led to the loss of habitats and natural resources which were significant in the decline of various species’ populations.
Should Humans Preserve Wildlife and Plants?
While there are two sides to the argument, only one side promotes moral and ethical actions. Arguments proposing that preservation is unnecessary also imply that humans should neglect their environmental impact. They argue that climate change is irreversible and wild species will eventually adapt to a changing world. However, this also promotes destructive behaviors detrimental to human progress and life. According to NASA, global temperature will increase significantly by the year 2100 if there are no major greenhouse gas emission reductions. If humans continue living with disregard for preservation, this prediction will manifest and create a significantly warmer Earth. Additionally, some species can disappear even when humans have yet to discover them. For instance, Marshallia Grandiflora only became an official species in 2020 but is now extinct (Platt, 2021). Other species, such as potential medicinal plants, may have suffered the same. Without knowing, humans may have destroyed the species that could help save lives and cure incurable diseases.
Therefore, preserving wildlife and plants is a moral and more beneficial action. One cannot deny that humans are responsible for the majority of modern-day extinctions. The National Museum of Natural History reported that the modern extinction rate is a thousand times higher than the natural rate. Recognizing this, humanity must feel accountable for their actions and take moral avenues for the reparation of their errors. Furthermore, since wildlife and plants cannot voice out their concerns nor acknowledge their conservation status, they cannot defend themselves as a species. For instance, the last two northern white rhinoceros cannot understand that they are the last of their species. It is then up to humans, who can perceive these concepts, to preserve these species.
Humans have the moral obligation to preserve wildlife and plants because of their capacity to perceive conservation and accountability for environmental destruction. The topic of preservation does not focus on the fact that wild species can adapt to a changing world regardless of massive extinction. It is a moral argument about human actions and their consequences. Humans have the ability to perceive abstract and complex concepts that wildlife and animals cannot. If they choose to neglect wildlife and plant preservation, they also disregard ethics. They would be rejecting accountability and letting the planet perish because of their actions.
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Extinction Over Time. (n.d.). National Museum of Natural History. Available at https://naturalhistory.si.edu/education/teaching-resources/paleontology/extinction-over-time. Accessed: October 24, 2022.
Is It Too Late To Prevent Climate Change? (n.d.). NASA. Available at https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/16/is-it-too-late-to-prevent-climate-change/. Accessed: October 24, 2022.
Peterson, C. (2020). 25 Years After Returning to Yellowstone, Wolves Have Helped Stabilize the Ecosystem. National Geographic. Available at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/article/yellowstone-wolves-reintroduction-helped-stabilize-ecosystem. Accessed: October 24, 2022.
Platt, J. (2021). What We’ve Lost: The Species Declared Extinct in 2020. Scientific American. Available at https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-weve-lost-the-species-declared-extinct-in-2020/. Accessed: October 26, 2022.
Ryding, S., Klaassen, M., Tattersall, G., Gardner, J. & Symond, M. (2021). Shape-Shifting: Changing Animal Morphologies as a Response to Climatic Warming. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, vol 36(11). Available at https://www.cell.com/trends/ecology-evolution/fulltext/S0169-5347(21)00197-X#relatedArticles. Accessed: October 24, 2022.
Safina, C. (2019). The Real Case for Saving Species: We Don’t Need Them, But They Need Us. Yale School of the Environment. Available at https://e360.yale.edu/features/the-real-case-for-saving-species-we-dont-need-them-but-they-need-us. Accessed: October 24, 2022.
Wilson, E. & Bernstein, C. (2010). Why Do We Need to Protect Biodiversity? European Commission. Available at https://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/biodiversity/intro/index_en.htm#:~:text=Healthy%20ecosystems%20clean%20our%20water,civilisation%20and%20sustain%20our%20economies .. Accessed: October 24, 2022.