Intergenerational Inequity: Stealing the Joy and Benefits of Nature From Our Children

Allbwn ymchwil: Cyfraniad at gyfnodolynErthygladolygiad gan gymheiriaid

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Dangosydd eitem ddigidol (DOI)

  • Matthew Hayward
    The University of Newcastle
  • Ninon Meyer
    The University of Newcastle
  • Niko Balkenhol
    Unoversity of Gottingen
  • Chad T. Beranek
    Institute for Health and Society, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
  • Cassandra K. Bugir
    The University of Newcastle
  • Kathleen V. Bushell
    The University of Newcastle
  • Alex Callen
    The University of Newcastle
  • Amy J. Dickman
    University of Oxford
  • Andrea S. Griffin
    The University of Newcastle
  • Peter Haswell
    Ronin Institute, Montclair, NJ
  • Lachlan G. Howell
    The University of Newcastle
  • Christopher A. Jordan
    Re:wild, Austin, TX
  • Kaya L. Klop-Toker
    The University of Newcastle
  • Remington J. Moll
    Michigan State University
  • Robert A. Montgomery
    University of Oxford
  • Tutilo Mudumba
    Michigan State University
  • Liudmila Osipova
    Unoversity of Gottingen
  • Stephanie Periquet
    Ongava Research Centre, Namibia
  • Rafael Reyna-Hurtado
    El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Mexico
  • William J. Ripple
    Marine Mammal Institute, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon State University, Newport, Oregon
  • Lilian P. Sales
    University of Campinas (UNICAMP)
  • Florian J. Weise
    Ongava Research Centre, Namibia
  • Ryan R. Witt
    The University of Newcastle
  • Peter A. Lindsey
    University of Pretoria
The Earth's wildlife and wild places provide essential ecosystem services for current and future generations of humanity, including visual and aural amenity, clean air and water, climate regulation, carbon sequestration, cultural services, energy, disease and pest control, fire regulation, food, habitat provisioning, medicine, land stabilisation, mitigation of natural disasters, pollination, resistance to high winds, and seed dispersal (Costanza et al., 1997). The utilitarian value of biodiversity, assessed via the use-values and ecosystem services that nature provides and upon which humanity's survival depends, does not reflect the entirety of the benefits humanity obtains from nature. There are additional elements of the human experience that are intrinsically connected to nature, in particular our physical, mental, cultural and spiritual well-being (Hough, 2014).

Yet, policy making and current neoliberal economic paradigms of infinite economic growth in a finite natural system are at odds with the conservation of biodiversity and critical ecosystem services for future generations. The value of nature is becoming more obvious as it becomes scarcer, but awareness is not growing fast enough for humanity to stop the loss of wildlife and wild places that are disappearing as our planet passes through the Anthropocene. One species—Homo sapiens—is likely to be imparting more profound impacts on the geological record than ever before by changing its climate, releasing excessive amounts of pollution, harvesting a vast array of other species at unsustainable rates, introducing invasive species, simplifying ecological communities, and clearing much of the globe's terrestrial areas of native vegetation. Collectively, these factors are leading to a rate of biodiversity extinction that is unprecedented in geologic time (Smith et al., 1993).

Older generations are increasing their wealth at a proportionally greater rate than younger generations, largely on the back of unsustainable utilisation of natural resources (Christophers, 2018). Virtually the entire history of humanity has been defined by the expectation that young people would live longer and “better” than their parents. This expectation however, is no longer certain. Furthermore, the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources deprives future generations of the value of nature (sensu stricto based on Soga and Gaston, 2018), causing the benefits of nature to humanity to be distributed unequally across time. Hence, people in the future will be less likely to experience wildlife and wild places, and will be unable to reap the economic, ecological, and psychological benefits of nature. This is a vicious cycle as the extinction of the experience of biodiversity is a major threat to society's connection to nature, and, by consequence our ability to conserve biodiversity (Miller, 2005; Soga and Gaston, 2018).

We discuss the principal issues of this intergenerational inequity of nature and wild places. We focus on the broader issue regarding the decrease in nature-based experiences future generations will face, and how the lack of such experiences will shape the future of biodiversity conservation. Throughout this manuscript we use biodiversity –the variety and variability of life on Earth– and species –the key units representing biodiversity– somewhat interchangeably to broaden the understanding of this paper beyond the scientific community.
Iaith wreiddiolSaesneg
CyfnodolynFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Dynodwyr Gwrthrych Digidol (DOIs)
StatwsCyhoeddwyd - 8 Chwef 2022
Cyhoeddwyd yn allanolIe
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