Ethics and Attitudes

  • Peter H. Raven
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 1)


The roughly 300,000 species of green plants and algae provide the means by which the energy of the sun that reaches the earth’s surface is locked up in chemical bonds. By carrying out this process, the plants and algae provide all of the food for from ten to thirty times as many heterotrophic organisms, including all the animals and man himself. Because of the nature of food chains and the degree of specialization in feeding habits of these heterotrophs, we may assume that the extinction of each species of plant is, on the average, accompanied by a ten- to thirty-fold loss amongst other organisms. Therefore, the diversity of plants is the underlying factor controlling the diversity of other organisms and thus the stability of the world ecosystem. On these grounds alone, the conservation of the plant world is ultimately a matter of survival for the human race.


Seed Bank Endangered Species Wild Plant Threatened Species British Isle 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter H. Raven
    • 1
  1. 1.Missouri Botanical GardenUSA

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