why do we try to save endangered species? from an ecological point of view, it doesnt make much sense to prolong the survival of a species that obviously cannot cope with the changes in its environment. why not let them die out and allow the species that are more fit to survive in the changing world take their place? it seems to me like it just causes even more harm to the ecosystem. dont get me wrong, i think its bad that humans cause such upheaval in the environment, and it makes me angry every time a forest is cleared out to make room for more suburbs (i see it all the time around here), but if we as a species are going to be ecological destroyers, why not go the full nine instead of trying to pretend that we’re not really making that much of a difference to the environment. not only have we stopped our own evolution, we hinder the evolution of the species which are trying to live around us.
ecosystems arent as fragile as some people think. they may shift and seem unstable, but thats natural. its a fact that every few hundred thousand years (or something) the earth goes through a major extinction, with millions of species being wiped out. extinction is necessary to a healthy, evolving ecosystem. saving an endangered species is a cheap trick to alleviate some of the guilt for our environmentally irresponsible lives.
This planet earth, like it or not, is dominated by the scumsucking backstabbing selfserving species called humans. Humans are the only known species who are intelligent enough to realize the consequences of their actions beyond how it directly affects their own survival. As such, we know that every time we cut down forests, pollute rivers, drive our millions of cars, we are creating an environment that is completely unfit for many once-thriving species to survive in. Its not right, its completely wrong, but it happens every second of every day, but most of us seem to be unwilling to compromise the convenience of their everyday lives for what is good for the environment, so we may as well learn to deal with it. Instead of keeping alive the species that are unfit for the new environment we’ve created, allow the ecosystem to adjust itself, naturally. Let the animals who can deal with us, like rats and pigeons, proliferate. Thats how we can learn again to live in harmony with nature.
And for the record, i dont think pollution is ok, i think its terrible, irresponsible, and unnecessary, but most of the rest of society seems to think its ok. Our society, in its usual half assed fashion, has taken on an environmentally responsible philosophy and mixed it with environmentally destructive practices. I guess this is just my attempt to point out the hypocrisy of destroying habitats then trying to save the animals we’ve left homeless. I’d rather live in a world of sprawling wildernesses and small self sustaining villages who live with nature and not against it, but thats not very likely to come about anytime soon.
The food chains that sustain an ecosystem are not static unchanging relationships, they are constantly changing and shifting. Its called dynamic equilibrium, everything evens out in the grand scheme. This is the way its always worked, with species that cant adapt to new conditions dying out and the ones that can adapt thriving. Humans have been the cause behind most or the recent changes in the environment worldwide, but instead of allowing nature to take its course, we have been hindering it further by keeping poorly adapted species, which nature had selected for extinction, teetering on the edge. This is nothing but more tampering in the environment by humans and it does further damage to the ecosystem. Why not let species with high tolerance to toxins and pollutants survive, the ones with multiple food sources and flexible living conditions.
We are ignorant enough to carelessly pollute the environment, then we are arrogant enough to think we can fix it. I say let nature adjust to us, because we are the dominant presence on this planet, in this ecosystem, and we are not leaving anytime soon.

agree? disagree? comments? anything at all?

This seems to assume that evolution has a nice natural course to follow and that some species are obviously destined to die. Well, evolution isn’t like that. Evolution lurches madly from side to side, bouncing off the walls, like a drunken, raving lunatic (in slow motion, I suppose). If it happens to kill off a few species, well, it happens, and if it doesn’t, then that happens too.

So basically, keep the lions and tigers and bears, cos they rule. And lose the rats and pigeons, cos they suck. IMHO, of course :slight_smile:

We are ignorant enough to carelessly pollute the environment, then we are arrogant enough to think we can fix it. I say let nature adjust to us, because we are the dominant presence on this planet, in this ecosystem, and we are not leaving anytime soon.

We are in a unique situation on this planet, my friend – we have the ability, technology and empathy to (occasionally, granted) stop the extinction of creatures.

I can think of no greater crime against this world than to willingly allow a species to die off. As the dominant species on the planet, we have an inherent responsibility to ensure that survival can continue. Aside from the fact that in most cases these days, it is our fault that races are dying off, the reality I want to live in does not feature a species wholly unconcerned with the survival of others.

As this is a debate forum, I guess I should be attempting to whip out a flurry of statistics and research that supports my claim. Well, sometimes you can’t quantify one’s moral code. The permanency of extinction must push us toward the side of caution. Right now a bunch of panda bears are having an awful time reproducing offspring. It’s our fault. We’ve only barely begun to look for other worlds… who’s to say they can’t flourish elsewhere? If left to their own, current devices, then they – and many other creatures – are forever gone. To say that they were at an evolutionary dead-end should not imply that where they ended up is somehow “inferior.”

Whether one believes in creationism, evolution or maybe a little of both, I would hope that there’s enough soul in twenty-first century man to care how precious life is. I understand where you are coming from, rottenbrain138, I do totally. I guess I just hope that since we were given the advantages to do something about extinction, that we do.

Every creature is important, no matter how insignificant they may seem in the great scheme of things.

Let’s say we have an endangered bee. Not important, right? But those are the only bees that polinate a certain tree. The tree cannot reproduce without the bee. The trees die out too. The bee was eaten by a certain type of bird, but the bees are gone, so the birds die out as well. Dead bees, dead birds, dead trees . . . Those trees fed a tiny rodent, and they too die out because they only ate the seeds of this certain tree. Those rodents, in turn, fed another creature which also dies out . . . and it keeps on going upward.

Creatures are specialized to their environment, sometimes only eating a certain type of food, and when that food source is gone they can’t just adapt in a single generation, and so the species slowly dies out, and takes with it the creatures that specialized in feeding on them.

You can’t blame the animals for failing to adapt to an environment that we have changed so quickly.

I personally shudder at the thought of a world populated only by humans, cattle, domestic pets, and roaches. Some animals can adapt to humans, eating our scraps, foraging in our dumps, but others face a loss of food and habitiat. Bears in the west are a good example of this, but the bears are a danger to humans. As we de-forrest more of our land, we bring the creatures right up to our homes. Where your house now stands was once a wilderness where animals roamed freely. Now your house stands in their hunting ground. Where are they supposed to go when their habitat shrinks every day? Only so many of one creature can be supported by one bit of land, and as their natural territory shrinks, the animals are crowded together. They die out.

I don’t think we should interfere with the natural order of things. If a species is on its way out simply because of environmental changes which aren’t cause by humans, then, well . . . But creatures that we have endangered because we have expanded into their environement, killed off their food source, or poisoned their waters-- those are our responsibility to protect. We may be the dominant species of this planet, but with that comes the responsibility of taking care of it.

From a utilitarian point of view, the survival of other species can be defended also. Pharmaceutical companies employ study living organisms to help them find methods to combat illness in humans. (I believe that the anticoagulants found in leeches have been tested for medical treatments.) Other species can produce chemicals that have their uses for engineering or other human endeavours. (Think of silk for example.)

The extermination of species is a great loss for mankind, not something to which we should remain indifferent.

rottenbrain, it’s true that humans can in no way destroy all life or even earth itself. But in all your talk of niches and fitness and environments, you forget that we ourselves are perched precariously in a delicate balance. we fuck this up too much, and the earth will not suffer in the least.

but it will suck to be us (if there even are any of us left).

so if you decide to be a conservationist for one reason and one reason only, at least do it so that the endangered species isn’t US.

rottenbrain138 writes (among many other things):

Been there, done that. It’s generally called the “Neolithic”. It really sucked, too.

Exactly backwards. We inherit environmentally destructive attitudes from our primitive ancestors, whose childish, irresponsible conduct (archaeology is, in large part, rooting through someone else’s garbage dump) was kept from being suicidal by the fact that they were generally too impotent to make a difference (although Paleolithic hunter-gatherers did manage to exterminate the American and Australian megafaunas, and North African pastoralists help desertify the Sahara).

Now, for the first time in history, a small fraction of humanity has made itself rich enough (through industrialism) to rise high enough in the Maslovian hierarchy that it can worry about something longer-term than where its next meal is coming from.

Nope, every several tens of millions of years. A major extinction is and has been going on since the last glacial remission, which humans (not industrial humans, mind you) are at least partially responsible. The one before that was at the K-T boundary, about 65 million years, and the one before that was the Permian-Triassic transition, which, IIRC, was about 135 million years before that.

Unlike the pure, good, and noble saurichians, who just couldn’t find the keys to the bulldozer.

You confuse impotence with innocence. Be careful; that’s a very dangerous thing to do.

Good point, along with the animals let all those poor africans starve too. hooray for darwin

Due to our efforts to eradicate small pox, the small pox virus has become an endangered species. We need to set aside a small pox wildlife preserve where it can thrive and multiply.

A little song I heard somewhere:

White and black
The friendly bears of China
White and black
They rarely reproduce
What’s to be done about
These chinese bears?
What’s to be done about
These friendly bears?

Die! They must die!
The pandas must die!
Die! They must die!
The pandas must die!

Why should we save them?
What good do they do?
Have you ever seen a panda
Do something good for you?
They can’t wear t-shirts
They can’t bounce basketballs
They can’t walk tightropes
Over Niagra Falls.

Die! They must die!
The pandas must die!
Die! They must die!
The pandas must die!

All endangered species
Make endangered feces
If you knew how bad they smelt
You would gladly take their pelt
If we kill them all,
We can have more parking lots
We can have small couches
Made of little ocelots

Die! They must die!
The pandas must die!
Die! They must die!
The pandas must die!

Just a funny song I heard somewhere. Though I’d share it with the class.

Slightly off subject, but about pandas and their mating habits . . .

Zoos have always had trouble getting pandas to mate in captivity, so they came up with the idea of panda porn. They showed two pandas a vidoe tape of other pandas mating, and it worked!

In response to OP without reiterating the reasons already given…

  1. you seem to forget that the protection of endangered species often includes efforts to protect the habitat, not just the critter itself.

  2. In addition to the search for medicines, etc… you might add the corollary: prevention of disease. The smuggling of exotic wild species no doubt has some ties with the transmission/spread of human illness. A good example is the increases in the West of hantavirus cases, which, although not much yet is published, is being studied as related to the decline of kangaroo rats and other rodents, and the “take-over” of their ecological niches by other species.

  3. Awareness of the issue might help reduce some of the hypocrisy or idiocy of suburban pioneers. Think newly-minted yuppies who want to live and jog in the “country”, and buy (and encourage development of) lots in, say the Santa Monica mountains, and complain when their “forest” is populated by coyotes, cougars, racoons, whatever, unlike the TV forest they were expecting.

Reminds me of a tourist on the Washington Coast near Willapa Bay I saw a few years back; the lady had put honey on her kid’s hand, and held the child out to a bear by the cranberry bogs to get a nice photo. When the kid was bit, she dialed 911 for the ambulance, but also kept insisting that the bear was obviously crazed and should be put down by the Fish & Game staff.

You beat me to the song, but I can at least add the attribution.

The Pandas Must Die, Corky and the Juice Pigs

The original point is valid. In the course of evolution, there will be some species that are ‘failures’ and should die off. It seems to me that artificially interceding to protect them is actually counterproductive to the evolutionary process.

I would distinguish these ‘natural failures’ from species that are endangered because of man’s intervention in their environment.

But the evolutionary process isn’t productive anyway. It’s not like it has a noble aim to achieve, it just happens!

Why? They’re no different than any other species being forced out by one that’s better adapted.

I’m not advocating the destruction of all other life on the planet, I’m just saying that if we have a reason to protect other species, it shouldn’t be “for the good of evolution” because evolution doesn’t have a good.

Luckily for you, a number of world governments have thoughtfully done just that… Including the U.S.

Oh, and since when is a virus considered a living thing and a species?

shrugs Not that it matters, there are a lot of bacteria I’d like to wipe out too…

> So basically, keep the lions and tigers and bears, cos they rule.

Don’t forget the cute pandas, penguins, koalas, & some breeds of dogs.

You will find vast numbers of species that are endangered by man’s intervention, but you will find very few that are going extinct on their own (after all, these things usually happen on evolutionary time scales, and we are living in just a snapshot in evolutionary time). The primary reasons for extinctions at the present time are habitat destruction (by human alteration), and introduction of exotic species (again, by mankind). See Primack, RB. A Primer of Conservation Biology, Chapter 2: Threats to Biological Diversity.

The number of species currently being protected that would go extinct without if humans had never walked the Earth is negligible. I am hard pressed to come up with more than a couple examples where human factors don’t appear to be the most important factor in the extinction, whereas I’m sure I could list into the hundreds the endangered and threatened species.

Ahem If you’re using “utilitarian” in a philiosophical sense, one could argue
A) That according to Millsian “hedonistic” utilitarianism, the existence, unhindered wild lifestyle, and especially opportunity for happiness, of various animals has “utility,” and effective moral importance.
B) Not only this, but both biodiversity, & the lives of wildlife, have intrinsic “utility” that must be calculated to determine the best course of action.

Conventional Benthamite/Millsian humanist utilitarianism is too often ignorant of really big pictures, because most people who claim to be utilitarians don’t actually do the math. They just deal with what’s visible to them, and only part of that, so, as far as big-picture issues, they’re no better than purely selfish hedoniists.

Actually, no. [ahem assuming reliability of geological timetables devised in the last 200 years, but they are the current standard, unless you’re a creationist or something…] Mass extinctions haven’t taken place nearly that often–more like tens of millions of years, and a single die-off may have taken tens of thousands. And when they have, it was not a “healthy, evolving ecosystem,” but full freaking collapse.

weird digression:
There is a very questionable hypothesis (as in, I thought it up myself as part of a crackpot explanation of the evolution of photosynthesis–and I expect if I knew a bit more about biology, I would find it a laughable piece of garbage) that at least the biggest die-off happened for astrophysical reasons–the previous life-forms needed a different environment–higher magnetic fields, hotter, etc.–and over millenia they faded out, and over millenia the new types arose (with relatively little overlap–biodiversity was down in between)–because both the earth and the sun lost energy and had decreases in magnetic field strength.
Even if this is so, TWO things must be remembered:
A: It was a cataclysm. Maybe at glacial speeds, but still horrendous.
B: It would have happened for unavoidable reasons beyond the biosphere per se. That is not true of today’s human-caused die-off, which happens for what are apparently cultural reasons (the big one being reverence for human life, but not for non-human life).