Ask five people why protecting nature is important and you may well get five different answers. Penn State conservation biologist Bradley Cardinale has heard many, and he has done a lot of research in support of one key argument: Wild species provide humanity with staggeringly valuable services, many of which aren’t reflected in the marketplace.

But, as Cardinale writes, he has become more open to other arguments as well – including religious directives to care for the Earth and the moral assertion that all life has an innate right to exist. At a time when the planet is rapidly losing wild species, he concludes, “embracing these diverse perspectives is the best way to get global buy-in for conserving Earth’s ecosystems and living creatures for the good of all.”

This week we also liked articles about why so many Indian Americans win spelling bees, an early LGBTQ activist born in Hong Kong and the history of health care chaplains.

Jennifer Weeks

Senior Environment + Energy Editor

A ladybug crawls on a paloverde flower in Joshua Tree National Park, California. Hannah Schwalbe, NPS/Flickr

Should we protect nature for its own sake? For its economic value? Because it makes us happy? Yes

Bradley J. Cardinale, Penn State

With the world losing species at an alarming rate, a conservation biologist explains how ideas about protecting biodiversity have evolved over the past 40 years.

Harini Logan is embraced by her parents after winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

How Indian American spelling bee dominance may fuel educational inequities

Pawan Dhingra, Amherst College

Ensuring that children hone skills and build up credentials at a young age is part of a long-term plan common among the South Asian parents who immigrate to the United States.

Li Shiu Tong, right, was the boyfriend and intellectual heir of German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld. Imagno/Getty Images

The Asian Canadian gay activist whose theories on sexuality were decades ahead of their time

Laurie Marhoefer, University of Washington

When Li Shiu Tong died in 1993, his unpublished manuscript about sexuality was almost thrown away. Yet it contains views on bisexuality and gender fluidity that would resonate with young people today.


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