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jfos's avatar

Do you think it is anti-nature for humans to preserve a species?

Asked by jfos (7370points) May 3rd, 2010

It is natural for a species to become extinct, as it is natural for a new species to come about. Do you think that, by preserving a certain type of plant or animal, humans are overriding nature?

This does not take into account that humans may be at fault for the endangerment of the species. What do you think? Any related ideas or points are appreciated.

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40 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Uh, well given how much of the extinction was our doing, I think we should be trying harder to override ourselves, not nature.

CMaz's avatar

It is just human. And “preserve a species” is just a humans way of denying the inevitable.

jfos's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir What way would you suggest for us to “override ourselves”?

@ChazMaz Is it human? Do children instinctively refrain from killing the last of a certain species?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos ack, don’t get me started, sigh…:) Whatever ways so that we can stop causing extinction of various species – there are too many to list. Read here.

jfos's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m getting you started. Isn’t it for nature to decide which species survives? Meaning… are humans playing “Nature”? That sounds like a very dangerous game.

CMaz's avatar

It is “instinctively” to TEACH you child not to.
As humans we conjure up these concepts of preservation.

With that form of reason that question can lead to, will a child instinctively survive if left in the woods alone? No, not without another human to guide it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos I don’t think there is such a thing necessarily (any more) like nature on this side and humans on this side. We effect nature in many ways and casing extinctions for our gains isn’t playing nature in any sense where survival is on the line – too often it’s when our luxuries are on the line. We are interfering in eco-systems and causing their demises for profit and pleasure. Therefore we better undo the damage or try to minimize it.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I see it as distinct cases, one where humans are the primary cause (and perhaps in cases where we are a significant contributing factor as well) for the endangerment and the other where we’re not. If we’re not, then interfering seems inappropriate. If we are, than it’s my opinion that we are responsible for undoing the damage we caused.

jfos's avatar

@ChazMaz Humans also ”conjure up” conceptions of racism, religion, superstition, etc. and some would argue that it is not instinctive to teach these to children. I’m not sure how instinctive species preservation is. And about your child in the woods, here’s Mowgli. =D

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I agree, but is it not possible that, by trying to undo our damage, we might cause more?

@wonderingwhy Right on. See ”@Simone_De_Beauvoir” above.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@jfos Depends – certain things like overfishing can be stopped. I know it’s easier said than done because this links to economics and other world forces but it is necessary.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I don’t think simply saying we are not going to harm or hunt a particular animal in order to preserve it is harmful. There are other things in nature that can still go after that animal and if it’s meant to be that the species is made extinct, it will happen with or without our help.

However, it we go farther than that, like to capture the last few animals of a species that is about to die off and keep them locked up where nothing else in nature can get them so that they may reproduce, then we could possibly being doing something against what nature intended.

CMaz's avatar

“Humans also ”conjure up” conceptions of racism, religion, superstition, etc.”
Yep, human.

As far as “Mowgli” goes. That is fantasy. Also a human trait. :-)

bongo's avatar

There is quite a few reasons for which humans should try and preserve species, by maintaining a high level of genetic diversity this will obviously allow for an increased liklihood that a certain animal or plant will become resistant to certain diseases and subsequently be useful in medical advances for humans. It is in our own interest to maintain this level of genetic diversity.
It is also important that effects we cause on the natural environment such as fishing down the trophic level of the food chain does not cause massive ecosystem collapses, by endangering one species though human behaviour such as pollution/hunting etc. this can have huge detramental effects on lower and higher trophic levels therefore causing a ripple effect which can easily get out of hand, allowing some species to dominate entire ecosystems hugely restricitng the genetic diversity of an area leaving it open and suceptible to extiction by other climatological or biological changes, this can leave barren areas where nothing can exist.
an example of this is the human removal of sea otters from kelp forests, without the otters the sea urchin populations exploded therefore causing huge destruction to the kelp. urchin armies have been seen to fell almost entire kelp forests killing off other species living in balance with the presence of the kelp. this has left huge rocky barrens where nothing lives.

xxii's avatar

@bongo – Biodiversity is useful for humans, yes. But is that sufficient grounds to stop a species from going extinct naturally? Wouldn’t that be considered selfish of us? To halt the course of nature for our own species’ benefit?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@xxii I don’t think (maybe I’m wrong) the efforts to prevent extinction of species are about species that would ordinarily become extinct without our intervention. But these days it’s so hard to tease out whether we didn’t significantly affect a species. If a species on a remote island (like there is such a thing) is to go extinct, it will – if we’re not around, it doesn’t matter what we do – but these days, efforts to save animals from extinction are done because people (some people anyway) understand that we caused it.

Blackberry's avatar

I would say it is nature itself, specifically survival, which is a part of evolution, correct?

bongo's avatar

@xxii humans are selfish yes, of course we are. everything humans do has a selfish aspect to it even if the end point is just the preservation of life itself or self satisfaction. have you read the selfish gene by richard dawkins? definately worth a read if you havent, definately wouldnt reccommend taking it all as fact mind!

mattbrowne's avatar

No, because we are correcting our anti-nature behavior. Preserving a species is an anti-anti-nature activity.

Coloma's avatar

I see nothing wrong with attempting to preserve a species that mankind has allowed to hit the edge of exstinction, I am not extremist in any capacity, but, I am a believer in conservation.

Although if the species in question will never be able to be reintroduced to it’s natural habitat I am not sure that keeping it viable in a zoo is natural or humane.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Coloma What about zoos is humane other than they claim to be providing a space for animals whose space we took?

Coloma's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir

Thats what I said…I am not sure that warehousing a species in a zoo is humane if there is no hope of it ever being returned to it’s natural habitat due to habitat loss.

xxii's avatar

@bongo – Nope, haven’t read “The Selfish Gene”... it’s on the ever-growing list. Yes, maybe humans are innately selfish. I can easily believe that, and I can easily accept it. The world is full of competing species and the human race is just one of them.

But where is the line for selfishness? When does selfishness become inexcusable? We kill other animals to fulfill our wishes and needs… we eat them, wear them, experiment on them, make them work, and all these things are excusable to a majority of our population. Is preventing them from their natural extinction (one that is arguably deserved and better for nature in general) for our own purposes and desires inexcusably selfish? Maybe, maybe not.

El_Cadejo's avatar

If we are the ones fucking it up, we should also be the ones trying to stop it from happening. This mass extinction we are heading into is completely faulted on humans.

ubersiren's avatar

Any time I suggest any kind of activism against certain endangered animals, I get the “You should be more worried about humans” argument scoffed at me, or something similar. Blah blah blah. Well, I’m sorry but, mass slaughter or pollution causing extinction is far different from natural selection. We’re doing unnatural harm which is causing a rift in the entire ecosystem. This isn’t a gradual dying out. It’s wiping out species in a destructive way. American Bison would fall in this category. Protection against a catastrophic imbalance is imperative. The end of the world as we know it is a scary thing. I agree with George Carlin who said something along the lines of the Earth still standing when humans are long gone and it will prevail through global warming and trash etc. But, you see, I am concerned about humanity. I want us to be here. I don’t want us to be too stupid to survive. But that’s exactly what’s happening.

jfos's avatar

@ubersiren Are we ”too stupid to survive” or are we too smart to survive?

Coloma's avatar

Yep, I am so grateful that I get to live on property and create my own little Eden.

No one hunts on my land, I am a steward of this beautiful peice of green earth and I strive to be a modern Snow White, all the creatures know they have a haven on my hill.

ubersiren's avatar

@jfos Have you read Ishmael? :)

jfos's avatar

@ubersiren I haven’t. A brief check on Wikipedia shows that it opposes the idea of human supremacy. I was not implying that when I asked you whether we are too smart to survive.

ubersiren's avatar

@jfos That’s not exactly what I was getting at either. I was referring to a recurring quote in the book that you sounded like. I agree with many themes in the book, but not necessarily what you mentioned.

tinyfaery's avatar

Nothing humans do is anti-nature. We are creatures of nature and all we do is natural.

jfos's avatar

@tinyfaery Interesting. So e-mail and paperclips are natural?

CMaz's avatar

@tinyfaery – Is right. GA.

tinyfaery's avatar

Those ideas came from the human brain which is natural. No?

ubersiren's avatar

@tinyfaery I agree, however we are intelligent and have the power to keep ourselves alive by being more careful with our environment. That would be natural, too, since it came from the human brain, and we’d be alive. I, personally, like that option.

Also, while it may be natural to give into our id and produce waste and be greedy and be killers, etc. not all humans do all of these things. Only certain parts of certain countries participate in mass slaughter of dolphins, for example, like in Japan. So that leads me to believe that we can curb that impulse to be more responsible, for the sake of our own species.

In other words, it’s natural, but we have other options. Stealing something from our neighbor is a natural thought/impulse, but our intelligence makes us “civilized” if you believe in that sort of thing. We know that stealing will result in a harmful society, so we don’t do it for our own good.

tinyfaery's avatar

@ubersiren I agree with you. I was making a different point. Just because it’s natural and we can, doesn’t mean we should. Or shouldn’t.

ubersiren's avatar

@tinyfaery Oh, I definitely didn’t get that from your response.

El_Cadejo's avatar

It has nothing to do with being natural. Its more a question of responsibility. We fucked this earth up, now what are we going to do about it?

majorrich's avatar

If the species did not taste like chicken, it’s probably in real trouble.

CMaz's avatar

It does! It does!

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