Module Ten: Biodiversity

1. You’re a blacksmith living in a rural region of Alberta, Canada. The economy of your small town has recently gone south after timber prices reached an all time low. Energy companies are inquiring with the town’s government about the possibility of extracting a clean burning, highly flammable metamorphic rock which is found on mountainsides west of town. Allowing mineral extraction would greatly improve the town’s economy while at the same time, around twenty species would be forced to relocate, two of which are unique to your region. Would a better economy be worth endangerment of the species? State your case.

In modern society, the battle between preservation and profit is all too common. Prized items like fossil fuels are found by scientists. Large corporations inquire about these resources in hopes of eventual profit. While local economies, many of which are rural and may be struggling, would significantly benefit, habitat loss and possible species extinction may occur. Pollution is also a major threat. In an anthropogenic context, the loss of a few well known species will probably not impact human life. Intrinsically, a living, breathing species now has no population in an area or is gone forever. This argument falls back onto ethics concepts with the bottom line being, species are non-renewable. Once an animal is completely gone, it’s completely gone, at least naturally. Alternative energy is a growing sector and includes many renewable, pollution and habitat loss free ways to make energy. Governments and citizens will continue to fight for extraction rights to increase taxes and power economies. The instrinic value of a species is far greater than any monetary value.

Discuss a situation in which biodiversity has taken a backseat to monetary gain. Try to use examples from your town, state or region.

In 2011, natural gas fracking began in Pennsylvania. Primarily occurring in Southwestern and Northeastern Pennsylvania, fracking consists of small metal pipes going through the soil and into layers of Marcellus Shale. Pointed horizontally, the pipes emit an undisclosed solution to retrieve natural gas. This is a threat to biodiversity because pollutants often enter groundwater aquifiers. These pollutants may end up anywhere farther down the watershed and be ingested by both animals and humans. Additionally, seismic activity has been linked to fracking in the southern United States. Most notably, a video surfaced a few years ago of a man lighting his tap “water” on fire in Dimock, Pennsylvania. This was likely due to high methane content, a component of the solution energy companies use to extract natural gas. While humans have water quality resources and filters, plants and animals do not. A harsh element like methane could invoke limitless damage on an otherwise healthy ecosystem. New York also has a considerable amount of Marcellus Shale but has not allowed fracking.





2 thoughts on “Module Ten: Biodiversity

  1. Hi Tyler. My name is Ben Ceci and I liked how specific your first question was. It really makes you put yourself in somebody else’s shoes and look at it from a different perspective. Your second post can be controversial and I think that will engage people and make them really put their two cents in. They are great questions for a learning activity. Here is the link to my post if you’re interested.

  2. Hi Tyler! (Cool name by the way). I am Tyler also. I liked how your post really set the stage and made you think about about the ethics of biodiversity. To answer your question, I would not risk the species and tell the companies to that we are not accommodating them. It would be a really tough spot for an official to be in to make that call.

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