The upcoming annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP, commencing on November 30 in the United Arab Emirates, will assemble governments, businesses, international organizations, and NGOs to address the global climate crisis and explore potential solutions. The accelerated loss of species represents not only a monumental tragedy but also deprives humanity of a crucial defense against climate change. Preserving the diverse array of animals and plants is pivotal for the Earth’s future, but any strategy to curb this loss must confront the reality that limited resources pose challenges to biodiversity conservation. Estimates suggest an annual investment ranging from $598 billion to $824 billion is required globally to reverse the decline of species. As an expert in environmental economics, I propose considering whether to regulate the conversion of habitat from natural to human-centric uses. Another approach focuses on conserving keystone species critical to ecosystem stability, like the gray wolf in Yellowstone National Park. Alternatively, the biblical approach, as mentioned in Noah’s directive, involves saving two of every kind to ensure their survival. The late Harvard economist Martin Weitzman offered an innovative solution, addressing the conservation of endangered species through economic analysis, framing the challenge as a modern-day version of Noah’s Ark Problem, where limited resources necessitate decisions on which species to prioritize for conservation.
The resources available to preserve “every creeping thing of the earth” are constrained. How might Noah navigate this challenge?