Is it a sin to apply a cost/benefit analysis to environmental protection? I think most people would agree that diversity in nature is a good thing, be it the best breed of milk cow or the weirdest octopus. But the question of why it’s good is less frequently addressed, and even less frequently put to a critical analysis. The force of survival seems to drive all living things to be gap-fillers, with some truly astonishing results. Given this, would the natural world really benefit from having an artificially sustained myriad of different animals when more basic archetypes (or new species) can foot the bill? Don’t misunderstand. I find floral and faunal diversity to be fascinating, and I don’t want to see species needlessly vanish, but let’s be honest with ourselves, it’s largely entertainment. Strange birds, blind scorpions and fanged toads all are markedly different than their closest relatives, but do we really need to save the brown field mice from one field when the brown field mice from another are almost identical? What role do they fill? I’m aware that species are divided more properly by genetics than appearance, and that we can learn from that, but it shouldn’t stand in the way of other ethical concerns.