It’s increasingly well documented that income inequality matters for a variety of reasons: among them, it has negative efffects on public health and social capital. So it was interesting to read a recent study from researchers at McGill University in Quebec. They found that income inequality is also linked to biodiversity loss.
Examing 45 of the US states and 61 countries, they concluded:
Among both countries and states, we found striking relationships between income inequality and biodiversity loss… societies with more unequal distributions of income experience greater losses of biodiversity… a 1% increase in the Gini ratio is associated with an almost 2% rise in the number of threatened species.
A Gini ratio, by the way, is the most common measure of income distribution.
Naturally, it remains to be seen whether there is a causal link between the two factors. Still, it’d be interesting to see more research in this avenue. If income inequality does, in some sense, cause biodiversity loss, it might suggest that conservation strategies go hand in hand with development strategies.
(Hat tip to Kevin Connor, who clued me in to this article.)
Ah, my fellow environmentalists are finally discovering gravity, the heavy law of economic necessity keeping so many people in a place where they simply can’t care about sustaining ecosystems. Not only the planet but people too need a new economy that’s not left nor right but does have a heavy dose of sharing “positive externalities”, mainly the market value of sites and resources or “rent”, all the money we spend on the nature we use, a la Alaska’s oil dividend. That’ll close the income gap and empower more than a critical mass to steward Earth.