With so much hype about extinction of species, it is high time we start discussing the different impacts it’s going to have on different areas. Apart from the biological diversity and ‘animals are living creatures created by god itself’ arguments, there are numerous other arguments against extinction of animals. However, it must be noted that most of them mainly appeal to the morals and conscience rather than stating realistic arguments against it (barring the argument which talks about such instances disturbing the nature’s order or simply stated- breaking the food chain and in general, just changing the ways of nature). y
Now, even though the last argument seems promising, we will discuss and perhaps even justify why destroying selective animal habitats may just be a necessary evil for satiating our growth needs purely from an Economics perspective.
Apart from the natural effects causing harm outside of direct human actions, we will explore reasons causing extinction of certain species as a result of direct actions of humans.
The main human-caused reason for extinction of animals is using up their natural habitat which is taking place on a widespread level due to expansion of industrial, agricultural or residential areas, tapping into forest resources. Now, to justify, I will use the concept of opportunity cost.
For those who don’t know what it is, opportunity cost is the benefit from an alternative not availed because of choosing another alternative.
Or simply- Cost of the next best alternative foregone by availing another choice.
With the help of an example: Suppose you are on a break for 15 minutes. You are confused between what to do during that time. You have two options. You have to choose between taking a power nap for fifteen minutes or reading this blog in 15 minutes. However, you feel like you need to rest. Since you can only do one thing before going back to study, you need to sacrifice one thing, namely- the opportunity cost.
It answers questions like- If not this, then what would be the best?
Moving on. So, if not saving animal habitat, then what?
Well, EMPLOYMENT, GROWTH, RESOURCES, DEVELOPMENT, OPPURTUNITIES…. and the list is never-ending.
Now thinking about the benefits of the heavy expenditure associated with saving those in danger, apart from attempts at partially restoring the balance of nature there aren’t many we can think of. So the real question arises; Is it really worth it?
In an ideal world, with everything in place, and in the remotest possibility of a scenario with no major economic or political issues; MAYBE.
But in the current situation, considering the world we’re living in, it seems like a problem with no immediate and particularly significant consequences. And with alarming issues like poverty, terrorism and climate change constantly crying for help and having the ability to cause prospective impacts threatening our very existence, one can’t help but question the efforts being put in for the former.
To further back my point, let’s look at some simple numbers, or as we economists like to complicate it; stats.
A study in 2012 estimated that it would cost $76 billion (4,89,364 crore rupees) per year. PER YEAR. To preserve threatened land animals. And mind you, preserving marine lives would account for much more. With all the other issues, clearly demanding much more attention and urgency, why should we allocate so much to a path which leads to nowhere? Practically speaking, of course.
Putting the figure into some perspective- Terrorism is regarded as a major threat to humanity, and estimated expenditure by the USA to fight this evil is south of the $100 billion mark. Now, comparing the magnitude of threat cause by terrorism to humanity can’t, by a sane person, be compared to the threat caused by the extinction of a few species.
Again, I am not in any way against saving certain species from extinction, but purely from a practical point of view, I am of the opinion that these funds will be better utilised elsewhere.
At this point, with so many issues, prioritising is the principle we should abide by, and personally, I feel like preserving all the species is just not worth the resources required to do so.
Everything can’t be a fairy tale. Especially not in the crude world we live in. And to survive in this world, certain decisions have to be made and as hard as they are, there is no other way to go about it.