How the Global Economy is Affecting our Endangered Species

Endangered Species and Global Economy BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of Belatina.

We all know that preserving endangered species is vital for both our past and future. However, we might not quickly realize how much of it affects the global economy and what comes out of it financially — and not just towards conserving our unique planet’s biodiversity from a moral point of view but in generating money for our economy. 

It’s typically a bittersweet and controversial subject, depending on how you think of it and what you do to help it.

When we think of endangered species, we immediately think of polar bears and the melting ice due to climate change — but we need to look deeper. 

The endangered species in our biodiversity covers and goes beyond animals; this also covers irreplaceable plants that are currently being prematurely killed for pharmaceutical purposes. Because of such economic value, the link between endangered species and the global economy is something we should take a closer look at, especially if we want to continue to preserve these fundamental organisms.

Endangered species are instantly treated as moneymakers. For instance, on the tourism side, there are spots where money is being made for simply watching an endangered species. 

According to GOBankingRates, “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that people visiting all types of wildlife brought in about $55 billion to the United States. Even just whale watching alone has been known to bring in $2 billion annually to the global economy.” 

Additionally, as far as endangered species and jobs go, according to TIME’s article “The Endangered Species Act Is Criticized for Its Costs. But It Generates More than $1 Trillion a Year”: “The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation study found that land under the purview of the Army Corps of Engineers generated $34 billion in sales and supported hundreds of thousands of jobs.” 

Money is being made and spent under the name of endangered species — but at what moral cost? 

Much of our ecology is still hurting even when the global finance aspect is thriving. An example of this is the use and production of yew trees. 

“Yew trees are used in the production process of taxol, one of the most commonly used medications used in chemotherapy. It currently brings in $1 billion a year. However, many yew trees are being over-harvested and are in danger of dying out,” according to the same GOBankingRates article. That’s something to think about. Yes, we need medication, but what do we do when we need it faster than it can be naturally produced?

It’s an interesting link when you feel good about helping in supporting tourism, jobs, and necessary medication, and at the same time feel terrible about what is inevitably happening as we pay to see these endangered species or pay to use certain over-harvested plant products — but what can we actually do right now? 

To start off and as an ode to Endangered Species Day, we can donate to resources that help save our biodiversity and educate ourselves on how to celebrate it

While we can’t snap our fingers and create the perfect environment and global trillion-dollar economy balance (or a new planet without climate change) — we can absolutely help our community by keeping it clean for our species, at least during our lifespan, to prevent new ones added to the list. 

The bottom line is: we only have one planet to support our ecosystem, and we should do what we can in our power to protect our immediate surroundings.