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Alexandra Levitsky

Engl-398V: Topics in Professional Writing: Writing for the Environment


09/19/17
Single-Point Essay
Audience analysis:
My audience are the officials in government capable of changing regulations
about deforestation. These officials likely care about the environment to some degree
but also promote the idea of using the resources forests have to offer for the benefit of
society. They likely know the basics about why deforestation is bad for the environment
but perhaps not the specifics, such as why the loss of biodiversity is such a bad thing. I
should explain why the destruction of biodiversity is a bad thing by showing how
biodiversity can itself be a resource that benefits society and by losing biodiversity it can
harm society. I will begin by explaining the importance of biodiversity then I will show
how it can be a resource and finally point out how deforestation harms biodiversity and
thus society.

Claim: Deforestation destroys biodiversity.


Biodiversity is more than just an important part of the environment it is also a
provider of essential resources that society needs. The variety of life in all its forms,
including genetic, are components which provide us with sources our society needs in
order to thrive and flourish. Like many things in life people typically become aware of
the value and importance of something only when it is lost or diminished, this is no
different with biodiversity. Biodiversity is being lost and it is mostly due to deforestation.
Because of deforestation global biodiversity is being destroyed and that means the loss
of essential resources.
Essential resources, such as crops, are gained through components of
biodiversity. While we only rely on a small fraction of species diversity for food their
genetic diversity provides the basis of continuing adaptation to changing conditions in
their ecosystems. Continued crop productivity relies on the diversity in crop species as
well as on the variety of invertebrates and microorganisms in the soil which maintain its
fertility. The productivity of agricultural systems depends on genetic diversity within the
species and interactions with other species found in the agroecosystem. (National
Research Council)
Another essential resource provided by biodiversity are the health applications it
can provide. Humans have used animals and plants for healing purposes for a very long
time and that is no different today. “Of the highest-selling 150 prescription drugs sold in
the United States in 1993, 18% of the 150 consisted of essentially unaltered natural
products, and natural products provided essential information used to synthesize an
additional 39% (Grifo and others 1997).” (National Research Council pp. 48) Though the
likelihood that a plant or animal will help lead to a new drug is small it is not impossible.
According to the National Research Council there have been endangered species in the
U.S. that have yielded new drugs, so it is important to have biodiversity and not risk
losing any species that could lead to new innovations in medical science. (National
Research Council pp. 50) Anup Shah in his article “Why Is Biodiversity Important? Who
Cares?” references data from a report, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
for National and International Policy Makers 2009, which shows that 25-50% of
Pharmaceuticals are derived from genetic resources. This data further shows how
important biodiversity is as a resource to medical science.
Through ecosystems biodiversity is able to provide us with many necessary
services. Ecosystems are a product of their biodiversity and thus the services an
ecosystem provides, such as the provision of clean water, regulation of water flows,
modification of local and regional climate and rainfall, maintenance of soil fertility, flood
control, pest control, and the protection of coastal zones from storm damage, are thanks
to biodiversity. According to the National Research Council the higher the level of
species diversity in an ecosystem the more likely that the particular ecosystem being
observed will maintain its services in the face of changing ecology or climate. (National
Research Council pp. 51) The maintenance of ecosystem services is not only due to
biodiversity but also due to the genetic diversity within those species. Reduction of
biodiversity damages ecosystems ability to provide a stable, and sustainable, supply of
services and also potentially decreases the amount of natural resources available for
future use.
The Rainforest Conservation Fund believes we are experiencing the first great
extinction brought on by human activity. “At large scales, across biogeographic realms
and ecosystems (biomes), declines in biodiversity are recorded in all parts of the
habitable world.” (Assessment, Millennium Ecosystem.) The loss of biodiversity thanks
for deforestation is a serious issue that impacts society in many ways by taking away
essential resources. National Geographic states that “Forests still cover about 30
percent of the world’s land area, but swaths half the size of England are lost each year.”
(“Deforestation”) Of that 30 percent about 10 percent are tropical forests which are
incredibly biodiverse, supporting at least two-thirds of the world’s biodiversity on their
own. (Giam) So you can imagine if just that small portion of forest has that much
diversity the destruction of that forest could devastate biodiversity. National Geographic
explains that “eighty percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many
cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes.” (“Deforestation”) Removing
trees means getting rid of part of the forests canopy which blocks the suns rays and
keep the lower levels of the forest cooler. Without the canopy the plants and animals
down below can suffer from temperature swings which can lead to their demise.
To address the impact deforestation has on biodiversity individuals, or
corporations, which wish to deforest land should create sustainability management
plans. They “should not cause any conversion or degradation of critical habitat and give
preference to land that has already been converted.” ( Biodiversity and Natural
Resources) We need to preserve the resources biodiversity allows us by putting stricter
regulations on deforestation. Biodiversity gives use all sorts of resources from food, to
medicine, to clean water and because of deforestation we are losing those resources;
deforestation destroys biodiversity.
Annotated Bibliography
1. Assessment, Millennium Ecosystem. "Ecosystems and human well-being:
wetlands and water." World resources institute, Washington, DC 5 (2005).
Provides scientific basis for the loss of biodiversity and gives facts and figures
that have to do with biodiversity loss. Recognizes the connection between
biodiversity and human well-being.

2. “Biodiversity and Infectious Diseases.” Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public


Health, Harvard College, chge.hsph.harvard.edu/biodiversity-and-infectious-
diseases.
The emergence, transmission, and spread of diseases is impacted by loss of
biodiversity, this is an important factor this article covers that no other source
really touches as deeply on. The article discusses how deforestation impacts
the emergence and spread of infectious diseases in humans by destroying
biodiversity.

3. “Biodiversity and Natural Resources.” FIRST for Sustainability - Financial


Institutions: Resources, Solutions and Tools, IFC, firstforsustainability.org/risk-
management/understanding-environmental-and-social-risk/environmental-and-
social-issues/biodiversity-and-natural-resources/.
This source talks about how biodiversity can be impacted by
client’s/investee’s operations that concern land use and conversion. It
discusses how protecting and conserving biodiversity is fundamental to
sustainable development. It discusses the different measures in place to
protect biodiversity.

4. “Deforestation” National Geographic, 26 Apr. 2007,


www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/.
Nat Geo tries to educate readers about deforestation and how it’s impacting
our planet. They explain what deforestation is and how it can be man-made or
due to natural causes, however for my paper I am only concerned with man-
made deforestation. Agriculture and logging operations are the main man-
made reasons for deforestation. The article provides data about forest
coverage as well as how much of it is lost each year and how many animals
and plants live in forests.

5. Giam, Xingli. “Global Biodiversity Loss from Tropical Deforestation.” Proceedings


of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 114, no. 23, 2017, pp. 5775–5777
Xingli Giam focuses on how global biodiversity is impacted by tropical
deforestation not just deforestation in general. He references helpful data
such as how much of Earth tropical forests take up and how much of the
world’s biodiversity is contained within tropical rainforests.

6. “Loss of Biodiversity.” Deforestation Throughout Indonesia, NTU Libraries,


blogs.ntu.edu.sg/hp331-2014-42/?page_id=84.
This source discusses how loss of biodiversity can cause irreversible
consequences of gene pool depletion. It also says how the depletion of this
gene pool can have a negative impact on medicinal research and local
populations that rely on animals and plants for their existence.

7. “Loss of Biodiversity (Including Genetic Diversity).” Rainforest Conservation


Fund, www.rainforestconservation.org/rainforest-primer/3-rainforests-in-peril-
deforestation/f-consequences-of-deforestation/3-loss-of-biodiversity-including-
genetic-diversity/.
Although this source speaks specifically about rainforests and their loss of
biodiversity due to deforestation it still speaks about the specific ways in
which deforestation negatively impacts biodiversity. It explains how
deforestation destroys habitats, separates contiguous areas, and interferes
with plant reproduction. The article even points out how the after effects of
deforestation can lead to even more harm to the biodiversity of that area.

8. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Noneconomic and Economic


Value of Biodiversity. Perspectives on Biodiversity: Valuing Its Role in an
Everchanging World. Washington, D.C., National Academy Press, 1999. Pp. 43-
71.
This source helps show biodiversity as a resource that is important to society.
Biodiversity is shown to be both informative and transformative to our
knowledge. Biodiversity is why we have many foods, medicines, fibers, and
industrial products. Without diversity an ecosystem can change and the
service it provides, like maintaining clean water and preventing soil erosion,
can stop.

9. Shah, Anup. “Why Is Biodiversity Important? Who Cares?” Global Issues, 19 Jan.
2014, www.globalissues.org/article/170/why-is-biodiversity-important-who-
cares#WhyisBiodiversityImportant.
Anup Shah discusses why we should care about biodiversity by showing its
importance in many ways. He shows how a healthy biodiversity offers many
natural service and discusses how important biodiversity is when it comes to
a ‘balanced ecosystem” where species depend on each other. He also
mentions how biodiversity provides lessons for scientists and engineers.
Finally he provides data from a report, The Economics of Ecosystems and
Biodiversity for National and International Policy Makers 2009, which helps
put an economic value on biodiversity as well as show how dependent certain
sectors are on that diversity.

10. Thompson, Ian D., et al. "Forest biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem goods
and services: translating science into policy." BioScience 61.12 (2011): 972-981.
The authors of this article explain how biodiversity relates to the production of
most ecosystem services. They mention how decision makers rarely consider
biodiversity in policy development because they do not see its connection to
the ecosystem services that we all need.