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delirium's avatar

Should we be protecting endangered species or should we just let natural selection take its course?

Asked by delirium (13691points) March 2nd, 2008

There’s a lot of debate about this idea. Do we, as humans, have a responsibility to protect the animals whose environment we’re ruining? (My opinion here doesn’t matter so don’t assume anything… its just an interesting topic).

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18 Answers

fortris's avatar

Oh… I like the controversy. I would say if WE have screwed up their environment, then save them. But if they are dying of other reasons, then let them go out. I completely believe that everything happens for a reason.

Perchik's avatar

I think natural selection should take its course. HOWEVER, I do not think the deaths of species due to our causes would be considered natural selection. So if we ruin the environment, then it is our responsibility to protect the species.

squirbel's avatar

Since I cannot express it better, I will mooch off of the two answers above and say I concur.

jrpowell's avatar

I think we should try to save them. If anything they might come in handy later for medical research. Same thing with the rain forest. I wonder how many potential cures are being destroyed every day?

Mtl_zack's avatar

act as though we only need these animals for survival. That’s a Darwinian approach

artificialard's avatar

I think the question assumes that there are still areas unencumbered by human intervention. Almost all endangered species have in some way or another been aversely affected by human development (we likely wouldn’t realise they were endangered if we haven’t had substantial exposure with them). I agree with the rest – species should be protected but more so their natural conditions of survival should be replicated such that they can flourish again in their ‘natural state’.

Biodiversity is important; different species contribute to our ecosystem in ways that we still don’t know about. A good example is the recent Svalbard International Seed Vault, they attempt to preserve genetic samples of a large number of our agriculture in the event a natural disaster wipes them out. The same should be done for our animals.

Peter1992t's avatar

Auctally if we are causing them to die off that is still natural slection due to the fact we are still a part of the food chain. And also as long as man has free will everyone will die one day humans animals plants. Everything…

Perchik's avatar

Natural implies that we are still part of nature. I think if we continued to live in caves, then it would be a valid point. But since the only natural thing about us seems to be birth [even then that’s only in most cases], I can’t see our “unnatural” actions legitimately effecting natural selection.

Spargett's avatar

Yeah, I don’t think oil refineries, acid rain, foreign species, freeways, suburbia, etc. are anywhere near the natural habitat that is killing off the thousands, and thousands, of species endangered my man’s greed.

ironhiway's avatar

Responsibility to protect, responsibility to who?
I would hope responsibility or not we would choose to live in such a way as to consider all life endangered or not as a valuable component of this planet we live in.
Now does anyone here know of a good pest control company?

Zaku's avatar

@Peter1992t: “And also as long as man has free will everyone will die one day humans animals plants. Everything‚Ķ”
– That’s not human free will, since there have been humans living with free will out destroying their environment for far longer than there have been “civilized” humans “conquering” the world. We brilliant civilized types need to stop telling ourselves there’s nothing we can do about it and change our thinking and behavior.

@ironhiway: Responsibility to life on the planet, and future generations. And to your true human nature, which if you look hard enough probably would really like for the Earth not to die.

ironhiway's avatar

Zaku I agree, we all should do what is right.

I do not sympathize wit the developer who is burdened by the fact they found an endangered species living in the middle of his project. I believe making a living is important but I believe, that because quality of life added to all of us by the presence of that species is more important, that all plans should include the preservation of that species.
I choose to be a part of that process, not because I have too but because I want to.
My choices to get involved may also include supporting legislation that requires those who choose not to be part of the process to do it because they have too.

As far as the pest control, I do feel a little hypocritical in that I tented for Termites. Although as of yet, thankfully, they are not endangered.

xacrox's avatar

as with other stated answers, natural selection is best. But if we are responsible for them dying then that isn’t natural selection and we need to protect them.

christybird's avatar

We have definitely drastically altered our environment, and I think if we continue along that path we’ll probably end up making the planet uninhabitable not just for other critters, but for ourselves. But will the Earth ultimately recover? Absolutely yes. There have been cataclysmic periods of extinction in the past, and the Earth recovered from those.

However, do we want to live in a world populated only by pigeons, cockroaches and rats, because we’ve killed off all of the whales, tigers and whooping cranes? I don’t. I’m still angry at the American settlers who killed all the Carolina Parakeets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolina_Parakeet), I don’t want future generations to be angry with me in the same way!

guesswho's avatar

oh the irony of it all! We are all dying, aren’t we? If we aren’t killing them from one thing or another, something else will- Who’s to say that we should put more effort towards saving them- humans feel guilty about things they feel they shouldn’t have done. So i think bcuz of that, we want to help them bcuz we feel like we are messing up their lives-natural selection is what it is now bcuz we have made it that way. In other words- you can only repair so much damage in so much time. I think the whole process will take care of itself regardless of what humans try or don’t try to do.

DrMC's avatar

Um’ well – if you have something that’s running out, wouldn’t you want to conserve them?

I know I would.

If only we could get mosquitoes and flies to go extinct.

By the way, did you know that small pox is extinct. A victim of planned genocide, biological warfare against a species of virus. Humans are it’s only host.

There is one place in the world that has the virus. It was kept, perhaps to use in developing a vaccine, or for research. Many people are against that – but, the last of its kind, it is kept.

DrMC's avatar

@Perchik regarding self destruction of our species, once were are dead, done by our own way of life, darwin definately had his say. Environental suicide IS natural selection.

If we act in a way that will likely kill us off, and we are killed off – then nature says “be gone with you” – eventually sentient life may arise to wonder what all the ruins are from, where the owners went, and what killed the owners off.

I love this topic, so’ll meander a little here while pondering my avatar.

Do you ever stop and wonder if dinosaurs had achieved sentience before the time of the comet? – 65 million years, not even a pyramid would last that long IMHO.

There is a parallel in viral evolution. Viruses that kill the host too quickly don’t get spread and die off. Viruses that use you and leave you feeling molested but alive, live to find another living host. Natural selection by destruction of environment, host, food source is a constant and common selective pressure.

I really don’t think there is much we can do.

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