There’s no time like the start of the year to plunge headlong into conservation issues. The United Nations thinks so too. Read on to find out why.

But first let’s talk about dolphins. “Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans…” reports the Times Online. Their intelligence has been well documented. What’s new about this reporting is even more confirmation about what kind of intelligence dolphins have. And, for me, the most crucial point:

The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year.


The neuroanatomy suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins and has profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions…


The scientific research…suggests that dolphins are ‘non-human persons’ who qualify for moral standing as individuals…

Enough said.

Species are disappearing, have been disappearing at an alarming rate for quite some time now. ScienceDaily reported in October ’08 that “Earth is in the midst of the sixth mass extinction of both plants and animals, with nearly 50 percent of all species disappearing…”

To find out the current classification of threatened species, visit

The dolphin news isn’t about extinction, but the ethics of the relationship humans have with Earth’s other lifeforms. Whether we recognize all species as “individuals” or not, as the ones endowed with self-reflection we are being asked to act.

That’s why the United Nations is launching the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) on Monday, January 11 with a special celebration in Berlin.

The 2010 IYB is promoting some important messages. First, humans are part of nature’s rich diversity and have the power to protect or destroy it. Second, biodiversity is essential for sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us all with health, wealth, food, fuel and the vital services our lives depend on. Third, human activity is causing the diversity of life on Earth to be lost at a greatly accelerated rate; but we can prevent this loss. And fourth, we have made some achievements to safeguard biodiversity but we need to do much more and we must act urgently.

The fact of the matter is that biodiversity is closely linked to our own survival, if we were to ignore all its other significant aspects and narrowly focus on one alone. Find out more about the International Year of Biodiversity here and here.

You may also take these quotes into your Heart contemplation:

  • There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before. –Robert Wilson Lynd
  • Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten. –Cree Indian Prophecy

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Biodiversity and the United Nations