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Sample IELTS Essay: Why Wildlife Conservation is Expensive
Wildlife conservation is expensive, requiring governments and conservationists to spend billions of dollars to protect wild species. While these efforts promote environmental preservation, some argue that wildlife conservation is too expensive. The argument that wildlife preservation is unnecessary since humans can survive regardless of mass extinction further supports the notion. This challenges the practicality of spending billions on wildlife conservation instead of adding the budget for humanitarian issues and other problems. This essay argues that the consequences of inaction outweigh wildlife conservation’s high cost, rationalizing the high government spending.
Wildlife Conservation Cost
Wildlife conservation is expensive because of the various resources that each program requires. Environmental restoration projects need equipment, manpower, licenses, and other requirements that cost money. Maintaining and building wildlife sanctuaries has the same requirements as the addition of purchasing land which can cost millions of dollars. According to Taylor (2021), the State of Finance for Nature reported that natural system conservation requires an $8 trillion investment to ensure a successful project. Additionally, mitigating the decline of biodiversity by 2030 requires about $900 billion annually. For the current global costs, estimates show that countries collectively spend $76 billion per year on wildlife conservation (Taimur, 2018). These show that wildlife conservation cost is extremely high and that the argument against it may have some merit. Spending $900 billion annually to protect wildlife when humans can live without most of them may seem impractical.
However, this investment is necessary to ensure the conservation of wildlife as well as the environment. Protecting wildlife means that humans will have to protect the natural environment and ensure a healthy ecosystem. According to White et al. (2022), the lack of funding tends to limit wildlife conservation. As mentioned, biodiversity conservation requires $900 billion annually but the global spending on wildlife conservation is only $76 billion. While the two may seem different departments, wildlife conservation is part of restoring and maintaining biodiversity. As such, it should account for more than 10% of the required spending. Since this is not the case, it shows that there are areas that the $76 billion spending cannot address. This could lead to species extinction, loss of habitat, and even the loss of manpower as governments cannot provide proper wages to employees.
Humans argue that governments should spend the $76 billion on humanitarian projects because they value human needs over wildlife. For them, it is better to feed millions of starving children than to ensure the survival of the last dozen individuals of a species. Conservationists have also agreed that humans can maintain modern ways of living regardless of wildlife extinction (Safina, 2019). For instance, the extinction of thousands of species and continuous disappearances of more species are not posing any threat to human civilization. The main problem is climate change and its effect on planet Earth . The extinction of certain species cannot affect human civilization but rapidly changing climates will be detrimental, especially for agriculture and daily living.
While this fact means that wildlife conservation is unnecessary to humans, it does not imply that there are no reasons for conservation. One of the strongest arguments against this is morality or human’s moral obligation to wildlife. Aristotle distinguished humans from animals through rationality (Human Beings as Rational Animals, 2019). This rationality allows humans to conceptualize abstract ideas and use reason. This separates them from wildlife that only relies on instincts and a sole purpose for survival. Wildlife cannot conceptualize that their species is declining. As such, they cannot protect themselves from extinction. They have no voice in the matter and it would then be morally questionable to ignore their situation when humans can acknowledge it.
Aside from rationality, moral obligation also comes from the fact that humans are responsible for the current situation of wild species. It is common knowledge that human activities and progress have led to deforestation, pollution, excessive hunting, and other actions. To build subdivisions and towering skyscrapers, businesses had to level mountains. To establish agricultural land, farmers had to burn down forests and drive away the local wildlife. These actions and others contributed to the declining wildlife population, making humans responsible for most modern-day extinctions. This supports the idea that humans have a moral obligation to wildlife and they have to pay reparation for their actions. It does not matter whether the reparation is worth a few hundred dollars or trillions of dollars, humans have to pay reparation regardless of any other humanitarian or global issues.
Ecosystem imbalances are another reason for wildlife conservation and its high budget. Ensuring that an ecosystem is in balance is necessary to protect wildlife and their natural habitats. As mentioned earlier, the cost of biodiversity conservation should be around $900 billion. This is to cover the cost of protecting massive areas, planting thousands of trees and vegetation, equipment to monitor wildlife, manpower, and more. This is necessary to prevent co-extinction since it can disrupt the natural balance. Co-extinction happens when a consumer in the food chain loses its food source (Giovanni & Bradshaw, 2018). This is not only exclusive to wildlife as the extinction of certain plant species in an area can affect the food chain. This can lead to imbalances, such as population decline due to a lack of resources or overpopulation due to the disappearance of natural predators.
Preventing ecosystem imbalances is necessary not only for wildlife conservation but also for human life. While ecosystem imbalance will affect the local wildlife first, its effect on the surrounding environment can eventually reach humans. For instance, a virus killed off the wildebeest and buffalo populations in East Africa during the 1800s. Without these herbivores, vegetation significantly increased during the dry season which caused more wildfires (Cho, 2019). The wildfires were detrimental to the lives of the locals, especially during the dry season with fewer crops and water. This shows that ecosystem imbalances can eventually affect humans and disrupt their way of living. So while some may argue that wildlife conservation is too expensive and unnecessary, it can help prevent ecosystem imbalances that could eventually affect human life.
In discussing the argument regarding wildlife conservation cost, compensatory beliefs can provide insight into the cognitive decisions of humans. According to Sorqvist & Langeborg (2019), humans believe that their “eco-friendly” actions compensate for unsustainable ones. This creates the illusion that an individual can indulge in unsustainable practices as long as they take part in some “eco-friendly” activities. For instance, many companies are adopting a paperless system which reduces carbon footprint while also cutting down expenses (Xiong, 2021). On its own, this action is eco-friendly and beneficial to the company. However, a company that manufactures plastic products that contribute greatly to greenhouse gas emissions may use this fact as a way to compensate for its unsustainable practices. A more common example would be the promotion of paper straws despite packaging drinks in plastic containers.
Compensatory beliefs are detrimental to wildlife conservation since it creates the illusion that someone is helping the environment. This is one of the reasons individuals come up with the argument that governments are spending too much on conservation. Companies are already going paperless, electric cars are reducing pollution, and alternative energy sources are becoming common. These actions and many more rationalize the idea that humans are already acting to conserve the environment and wildlife. However, preventing extinction is not about reducing pollution but protecting individual animals. Every company can go paperless but without spending money to feed, house, and monitor endangered species, humans cannot save wildlife on the brink of extinction.
Governments spend billions of dollars on wildlife conservation to protect endangered animals and maintain balanced ecosystems. Most conservation projects are massive, requiring large portions of land, massive manpower, licenses, and heavy equipment. With thousands of wildlife species in need of protection, expenses increase exponentially. While some may argue that these spendings are too much, they are necessary to secure wildlife and human welfare. A dying environment will negatively affect human lives regardless of whether wildlife exists or not. Thus, if governments stop spending on wildlife conservation, changes in the ecosystem can lead to more problems for humans. Wildlife conservation is not just to protect animals but to promote interspecies morality and secure the planet’s future.
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Cho, R. (2019). Why Endangered Species Matter. Columbia Climate School. Available at https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2019/03/26/endangered-species-matter/. Accessed: October 27, 2022.
Giovanni, S. & Bradshaw, C. (2018). Co-extinctions Annihilate Planetary Life During Extreme Environmental Change. Science Reports. Available at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-35068-1. Accessed: October 27, 2022.
Human Beings as Rational Animals. (2019). In G. Keil & N. Kreft (Eds.), Aristotle's Anthropology (pp. 23-96). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
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 27, 2022.
Sorqvist, P. & Langeborg, L. (2019). Why People Harm the Environment Although They Try to Treat It Well: An Evolutionary-Cognitive Perspective on Climate Compensation. Front. Psychol. Available at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00348/full. Accessed: October 30, 2022.
Taimur. (2018). How Much Is a Species Worth? Medium. Available at https://medium.com/s/story/how-much-is-a-species-worth-conservation-economics-e6c423221bfd. Accessed: October 30, 2022.
Taylor, M. (2021). Nature Funding Must Triple by 2030 to Protect Land, Wildlife, and Climate. Reuters. Available at https://www.reuters.com/legal/litigation/nature-funding-must-triple-by-2030-protect-land-wildlife-climate-2021-05-27/. Accessed: October 30, 2022.
White, T., Petrovan, S., Christie, A., Martin, P. & Sutherland, W. (2022). What is the Price of Conservation? A Review of the Status Quo and Recommendations for Improving Cost Reporting. BioScience, vol. 72(5). Available at https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/72/5/461/6549353. Accessed: October 27, 2022.
Xiong, E. (2021). The Sustainable Impact of a Paperless Office. Forbes. Available at https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/05/11/the-sustainable-impact-of-a-paperless-office/?sh=5d30d3271095. Accessed: October 27, 2022.