endangered species

haveheart
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endangered species

Hi I dont know if there has been a post about this or not but thanks for looking only if to tell me where better to look.

Most of us today have some idea that various species of different types are in danger of becoming extinct with numbers growing shorter in recent years. This in a lot of cases is a result of the human's superiorty and development. Be it through global warming or deforestation or one of the many other human developed forces threatening certain examples.

My question is no matter how beautiful or sophisticated some of these species have evolved should humans carry on regardless ?


Yellow_Number_Five
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haveheart wrote: Hi I dont

haveheart wrote:
Hi I dont know if there has been a post about this or not but thanks for looking only if to tell me where better to look. Most of us today have some idea that various species of different types are in danger of becoming extinct with numbers growing shorter in recent years. This in a lot of cases is a result of the human's superiorty and development. Be it through global warming or deforestation or one of the many other human developed forces threatening certain examples. My question is no matter how beautiful or sophisticated some of these species have evolved should humans carry on regardless ?

Well, it isn't an either or option. Yes, we are seeing species go extinct for a variety of reasons. Is this a bad thing and what, if anything, should we do about it?

Considering that more than 99% of species that have ever existed are now extinct and were extinct long before humans hit the scene, I think we can rest assured that NOTHING humans do to the earth will wipe out ALL life. That includes nuclear war and biowarfare. SOMETHING will survive, humans probably would survive as well - civilization probably would not.

 Now, when I hear of a species on the brink of extinction or going extinct, I honestly don't get very concerned. Truth be told, we discover new species at a rate comparable to their extinctions. Crown or Thorn starfish are currently wrecking havoc on coral reefs in the Southern hemisphere.  They are considered a nuisance, because they fuck up the tourist industry of reef divers. Nature on the other hand is simply indifferent. Would the reefs being wiped out and over-run by starfish be good or bad? I'm not sure one can put it in such terms - it's not good, but it's also hard to see how it is bad in the grand scheme of things.

 All things considered, life on earth is more biodiverse than at any other point in its history so far as we can tell.

Does this mean that we shouldn't be concerned or have no regard for the environment when weighing it against progress and insustry? No, of couse not. We should be concerned, as what we do to the world we live in affects us directly. Responsible stewardship would involve weighing our needs against immiediate and future reprocussions. Say if we build a damn that would wipe out a species of moles by flooding their habitat in order to feed and provide water to hundreds of thousands of humans, I'd be perfectly comfortable doing it.

 Life on earth is interwoven, but it is also competitive by nature. Personally, I think if we keep our own comfort and well-being in mind in the long term, we'll manage just fine - as will most other species.

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inquisitor
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Apparently I have a lot to

Apparently I have a lot to say tonight.

There's no question that human activity affects organisms and the environment as a whole. I worry when I read that people are not overly concerned about the possible extinction of species.

That's not to say that I disagree with you entirely, yellow, but there are at least two major differences between human activities and those of the Crown of Thorns starfish on the reefs:

1. Humans are aware of their effects and capable of changing

2. Humans have the capacity, technology, and industry to cause extensive, long-lasting damage in a way that the starfish and other predators do not.

In talking about coral reefs particularly, trawling nets, used by fishermen (who don't know any better, because no one has educated them) to catch shrimp are huge. Not only are they huge, but they have heavy metal weights attached to them that are dragged along the bottom. This can do more damage to a reef in a few minutes than the starfish do in a season. And they are only used to catch shrimp - much of the habitat ripped up is thrown overboard, dead. Hundreds of years of development are destroyed in a few minutes of overeager and underplanned human activity. That kind of thoughtlessness can and should be remedied.

I will grant you that there is a huge amount of species diversity, but it is the highly evolved animals that are at the most risk. The big cats were the most evolutionarily successful group until humans fully developed their hunting techniques. There are now more privately owned tigers in american homes and zoos than in the wild. Cheetahs could be gone within a few decades because African poachers can make money from the fur. You say that new species are discovered as often as die out. Sure, but can a beetle replace a cheetah? I'm not so sure. In fact, no - they can bounce back much more quickly.

Life is competitive, yes, but with humans and their guns and nets, the fight is unfair. Especially for the more evolved creatures, and those who get in the way. Stewardship of the Earth means that we think about what we are doing and make an effort to protect it. It doesn't require much of a sacrifice.

The facts I provided are mostly from BBC nature documentaries narrated by David Attenborough. If anything I said is misrepresentative of true facts, please let me know, because it was quite by accident.

 


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I think humans should be

I think humans should be concerned what they are doing to nature not what nature is doing to itself.


BobSpence
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I fully sympathize with the

I fully sympathize with the feelings that we should refrain from actions that cause significant loss of some group of species, or bio-diversity in a broader sense, unless we can demonstrate that the alternative actions or inaction are pretty certain to lead to fairly serious consequences. Apart from ethical and emotional reasons, I think there are significant practical justifications in many cases.

And these considerations should take into account long term problems, as far as we can estimate. 

There is some worry with coral reefs that if they die off in a massive way, many small island communities will be displaced, due to physical erosion of the coast if the reef gets eroded by storms since it is no longer growing, as well as to loss of the marine ecosystem which they often heavily rely on for food.

Many other hunting and commercial fishing activities which are causing this species loss are ultimately quite unsustainable, whereas sometimes quite modest but rational modification of their techniques would not only massively reduce their impact but allow for the activity to have a much longer future. 

It can be misleading to concentrate only on some emblematic critter maybe being lost, because there are often a whole group of interdependent but less charismatic organisms who will disappear at the same time. 

Obviously species have always being going extinct, but there does seem to be good argument that the current rate of extinction is almost unprecedented, due to our activities. I would agree that massive efforts to save some species that are endangered down to very minimal numbers may be misplaced, despite the appeal of the critter itself. This is particularly the case if there is evidence that the critter has evolved into a super-specialized niche that is, to some extent, shrinking naturally. The resources may well be better applied elsewhere.

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inquisitor
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I agree with you. ( btw,

I agree with you.

( btw, I know that I went on about cheetahs and the like, but I didn't mean to give the impression that I notice only the more popular and/or charismatic endangered species; I was just trying to provide well known examples. I could have just gone on and on...)