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1. The utility of biodiversity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter reviews the most common arguments for conserving biodiversity. These show that both biodiversity itself and the question of its utility have many different facets. For a long time economists have argued that prosperity is based on technological progress and the division of labour. They consider biodiversity to be useful only when it contributes to economic prosperity, which creates the conditions for wellbeing by enabling people to satisfy their needs and desires. Biodiversity contributes in various ways to the different levels of Maslow's pyramid, for example by providing food and drink, materials for housing, gifts, decoration for our homes and clothing for our bodies, but wellbeing depends on more than just biodiversity. The ecosystem services argument focuses on the utility to humans of natural processes and species, but species redundancy negates any direct relation between biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Keywords: biodiversity conservation; economic prosperity; ecosystem services; human wellbeing



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