Does GDP growth preserve biodiversity?
There is debate about this issue: one side supports growth as a mechanism of preserving biodiversity – as wealth increases so does our ability to preserve biodiversity; and the other side suggests that it does not – as wealth increases so does one's ecological footprint and as such degrades biodiversity.
Both positions seem to have the potential to preserve biodiversity, however growth requires redefinition. In order to progress as a species understanding the physical environment is an essential requirement - under current definitions of growth, progress is driven by economic strength, which is driven by an increasing consumer base, which in turn drives technological ingenuity – a cycle that increases entropy but hopefully moves humanity towards a scenario of balance. A gamble. The concept of sustainable practice is interesting and holds promise, but current definitions are contradictory under ‘business as usual’ circumstances: if humanity is driving GDP sustainability has questionable hope. Current measures of growth are reliant on the very things that degrade biodiversity; equate this to the value of a human life – it seems a soul is only worth what it can afford to buy and what place it has in a system of financial hierarchy; a circumstance influenced by pliable instincts and ‘learnt’ anthropogenic universal traits. I believe the majority of people place value on the human soul, but if one takes a look at global circumstance these values are seemingly ignored, this contradiction is perpetuated by the very economic system that drives them: consider populations growth - sustainability can be defined by providing for current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same - any ‘compromised’ human being can procreate, this is a human right, but when considering concepts of sustainability this ‘right’ becomes a question of collective survival. This circumstance, of unsustainable population growth, is enhanced by the technological marvels of modern medicine and increasing campaigns for affordable healthcare, which drives one of the largest economic industries on the planet – pharmaceuticals. In short, we willing degrade the human gene pool as it supports an economic system that may eventually destroy biodiversity – a slippery slope indeed. Nature teaches us a valuable lesson, only the fittest survive; we have learnt this lesson and manipulated it to suit our economic system: our ‘fitness’ is defined wealth and wealth is running out. Efforts to redefine GDP by incorporating elements such as national wellbeing and happiness into the equation are admirable, however, if one considers the historical path taken by mankind it is clear that we aspire towards technological advancement. In order to preserve biodiversity I believe the debate should consider more fundamental aspects of human existence, and ask questions that may seem controversial at first glance but on deeper reflection may provide sustainable concepts with fewer contradictions and perhaps assist in preserving biodiversity.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.