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Issues on the preservation of biological diversity.

abstract1 (full description below): Pp. 337-362 in R. Repetto (ed.), The Global Possible: Resources, development and the New Century. Yale Univ. Press.
preservation of biological diversity. PDF/Acrobat file  

The biological diversity of the earth's species and of their genetic materials represents an abundant stock of natural resources that serve our material welfare in many more ways than we realize. This natural resource capital pays dividends to our economies, in part by providing aquatic material for agricultural, medicinal, and industrial products whose commercial value is measured in billions of dollars per year. As used in this paper, the term "biological diversity" refers to all life forms, with their manifold variety, that occur on earth. It includes not only species, but subunits of species, such as races and populations, all of which possess their own characteristic attributes. Thus, the concept of biological diversity is much broader than is suggested by the sum total of the earth's 5-10 million species. But unless we take steps to safeguard this stock of unique natural resources, the biological capital will swiftly go to waste, depriving future generations of options for even greater benefits.