The Ethical Moral and Aesthetic Argument

Because biodiversity is also synonymous with nature enriched, it appeals to what might be characterized as more noble human qualities; ethical and moral responsibilities; altruistic concern for our future generations and companion creatures; and aesthetic responses to the wonder, beauty, and tranquility of nature. As noted above, surveys show these motivations are strongly influential in raising public appreciation for biodiversity and concern for its erosion. Developing messages that draw on these instincts, what E. O. Wilson (1984) originally coined as ''bio-philia,'' the human need and love for nature, can only be advantageous. In museum exhibitions dealing with biodiversity, for example, the first step is often to place people in a stunning environment, one that reminds them of the beauty and wonder of nature, as a way of telling them what is at risk. A multipoint proclamation for a biodiversity agenda is not a way to greet visitors. A diorama of a rain forest or a wall displaying the extraordinary diversity of life forms is a more effective gateway. Some of the most effective television and film programs, such as the Discovery Channel 2007 series Planet Earth (Weprin, 2007), that speak to biodiversity themes use a similar approach in reinforcing the biophilia of viewers.

Many moral and aesthetic values that connect people with nature are inspired by people who, by relating their personal experiences, make a compelling case for stewardship. Humans are interested in other humans, not only what they do but also what passion drives them to do it (Fleischner, 1990). The roots of environmentalism are found in places like Walden Pond, where emotion, art, and experience play a critical role in defining the value of nature. Not everyone can write like Thoreau, but when a biologist effectively relates his or her personal and emotional, and intellectual, experiences in the field and the laboratory, people respond.

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