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Biodiversity essentially refers to the existence of biological variety in terms of natural resources. According to Sedjo (2008), “the United States has an exceptionally rich natural heritage” (p.175). This heritage has been enjoyed by many generations ever since the beginning of the industrial revolution. The biodiversity of the United States is partly provided by its vast size, climatic variation, and biota, which span across different regions such as Alaska, Southeastern wetland, Southwestern deserts, and Northwestern rainforests among others (Sedjo, 2008). The debate to preserve and protect these resources has been a long standing one. In this regard, the importance of biodiversity was widely acknowledged during the late 1980s at a time when international agreements were attaining popularity among different nations (Sedjo, 2008). The biodiversity of the United States can be expressed in terms of genetic, species, and ecosystem levels. In this regard, two of the most illustrious issues regarding the protection of diversity include the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, which was passed in 1997 and the Endangered Species Act, which was passed in 1973. Their main aim was to protect the ecological biodiversity of the United States because of its industrial activities.
Evidence and Causes of Decline in Biodiversity
Political interference is among the most critical problems affecting the successful protection of ecological biodiversity. The Federal government has implemented several legislative measures aimed at protecting critical natural resources of the United States. A good example is the implementation of the 1973 Endangered Species Act, which was intended to safeguard habitats and species. Despite the fact that the Endangered Species Act focused on securing important ecological foundations, the protection was never effective because it became intensely politicized causing it to abandon its main cause of managing biodiversity (O’Riordan & Stoll-Kleemann, 2002). Thus, the legislation did not lead to major successful outcomes in the most affected areas because politicians kept interfering with the process.
Economic factors have also frustrated strategies that have been implemented to protect the ecological biodiversity of the United States. The passage of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 required that all parties to the protocol show commitment towards the initiatives that had been proposed. The major parties were mainly from the nations belonging to the developed world. In essence, the Kyoto Protocol used 1990 as its baseline year to determine the point from which reductions in emissions would be measured (Kelemen & Vogel, 2006). This baseline was chosen on the basis that it will be possible to produce realistic estimates of emissions. In this regard, the United States was required to reduce its emissions by 7% while the European Union was required to reduce its emissions by 8% (Kelemen & Vogel, 2006). However, problems were experienced because the United States government felt that the protocol was going to affect economic development.
The problem came from the fact that the United States had experienced faster economic development compared to its counterparts; hence, they found it difficult to comply with this requirement (Kelemen & Vogel, 2006). Thus, the United States did not put a lot of concern regarding their greenhouse gas emissions. More specifically, it implied that the United States was going to reduce its emissions by a significant 30-35% from the baseline levels that had been projected for 2012 (Kelemen & Vogel, 2006). To the US authorities, this baseline was way above the 8%, which had been recommended. According to “the US was also concerned about the impact of Kyoto on its competiveness vis-à-vis developing countries such as China, given that that Kyoto talks premised on exempting developing countries from any binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” (p.26-27). Thus, this shows how the Federal government was more concerned about the trade prospects that would be lost in the event changes were made in some of its industrial processes.
The recent revision of the Endangered Species Act led to the occurrence of major ethical problems. This is because the approach that was used by the government was selective with regard to the private entities that would be affected. For example, a selective approach was pursued by the George W. Bush administration, which focused on protecting the interests of private entities by lessening the burden for implementing environmental regulation (Conkin, 2007). As a result, in 2005, the administration proposed amendments, which relaxed the level of enforcement required and instead it rewarded private owners for any losses experienced in their private property. This was major ethical problem because it undermined the price of protecting the environment.
Social and Individual Solutions to Address the Problem
Numerous solution frameworks have been proposed in an attempt to address the problems arising from poor protection of the diversity. Nongovernmental organizations such as the Natural Conservancy and other environmental lobby groups have attempted to convince governmental authorities to institute better conservation measures (Conkin, 2007). Nevertheless, they have encountered challenges primarily because they lack sympathizers within the government. In essence, to address the problem, there is need for a consultative framework to be established, which will involve all stakeholders in the affected categories of biodiversity. There is also need to institute legislative reforms, which will prevent the United States Federal government from interfering with international conservation treaties.