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Your_Majesty's avatar

Why do scientists interfere with what Mother Nature has designed?

Asked by Your_Majesty (8215points) June 11th, 2010

We know that some hybrids occur in nature (Coywolf,Gizzly-Polar,Whalepin,etc) and we know that man-made hybirds have been created. Is it possible that man’s encroachment on wilderness habitat has forced these ‘wild’ hybrids to occur?”

Do you agree with the argument that it’s “Natures Way” for these hybrids to occur, in spite of the fact that some of these hybridizations create infertile offspring? Does that fact that some of the hybrids are fertile mean that this is nature attempting to find a balance?

Do you agree with scientists assessments that these hybrids somehow threaten the genetic pool of the parent species or would you argue that this is evolution in action? Do you agree with the idea of eliminating hybrids as a threat to genetic purity?

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22 Answers

bolwerk's avatar

Human beings can’t “let mother nature do its own business.” Like it or not, humans are part of nature. We likely had impacts on nature and ecology hundreds of thousands of years before we ever picked up some dung and smeared it on the wall to make a cave painting.

What we can do is avoid being completely narcissistic morons. There’s no reason people can’t work towards sustainable agriculture, reducing the impact of carbon emissions, and improving agricultural economics. However, the environmentalist movement would do well to remember that greenery doesn’t always mean greener lifestyles. Improvements have to be processive, and it might mean doing some less dirty things (like replacing really dirty coal plants with less dirty coal plants) than we’re doing now.

Qingu's avatar

Nature doesn’t “intend” to do anything. You are confusing an imprecise allegorical entity (“Mother Nature”) for fact.

Very little of what you wrote is based on a proper understanding of evolution or the role of biology.

If you define anything humans do with biology as “unnatural,” then every single piece of food we eat today is unnatural. All of our food comes from crops that were domesticated by humans who hijacked their so-called “natural” evolutionary processes for our own aims. Should we go back to eating near-inedible ancestors of our modern hybrid crops?

Cruiser's avatar

@bolwerk All fine and good but inject money into the equation and Mother Nature doesn’t stand a chance! The all mighty dollar will “effect” Ma Nature in ways your worst nightmare wouldn’t even accommodate!

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Humans are part of nature, and nature dictated our evolution. Our actions cannot be considered outside of nature, but simply a consequence of nature’s blind state of flux that caused the evolution of humans.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t like the idea of culling the hybrid offspring of wild animals, but I can understand why it is done.

arpinum's avatar

@Doctor_D I understand (now) English isn’t your first language, but claiming tha tmother nature “designs” something is false. There is no conscious thinking of a plan. Nor does nature “find” anything.
Genetic purity is also suspicious. Evolution does its thing on genes without human interference.
When your question contains falsities, the answer is always indeterminate.
Let me rephrase your question: “Are human created and modified organisms part of the evolutionary process? How large are the risks or these creations to the existing organisms? Are the work of these scientists a net benefit to the world (however you would like to define it?”

My answer to this modified question: I don’t care if pluots infested the whole world and was the only fruit available. Their tastiness is worth it. Is this natural? Sure, in some weird sped up way. I fear these hybrids getting out of control only in the realm of insects. Insects spread too quickly to control them and have a huge impact on ecosystems and human’s food supply. But I don’t know why scientists would design such an insect and find the chances of disaster low.

syz's avatar

I fear it’s a losing battle, but my own opinion is that if human actions negatively affect a species, then the right thing to do is to try to repair or at least minimize the impact. In some cases, that may mean removing a hybrid that has occurred that may be competing with the “naturally” occurring species. (And yes, I realize the fallacy, or at least difficulty, of that phrase.) We are, after all, just another animal, but since we like to think of ourselves as “thinkers” and “moral beings”, why not try to live up to our own hype? (Of course, as a “thinking” species, you’d think we’d be smart enough to limit our own numbers and our eventual exhaustion of resources.)

MissA's avatar

I do not feel this is a black and white issue. Having said that, perhaps we occasionally overstep boundaries when advancing our evolutionary agenda. What might be acceptable boundaries for me, might not be for you.

One example is genetically engineered corn. Personally, I’m against it. Again, I realize that it’s not a black and white issue for some.

Your_Majesty's avatar

Sorry if I somehow made a wrong perception about my question. I’m more focus on the existence of the ‘natural hybrids’ itself not about our(human) effort and its correlation to Nature. But still,it’s a good fact to know about that.

@bolwerk I’m not against the perception of domestication and improvement of our nature to sustain our life as part of nature.

@Qingu Like what I said to @bolwerk. And I didn’t define anything human do as “unnatural”. It’s “natural” but it’s “artificial”.

@arpinum Seems like I’ve led this thread to another perception. I really appreciate your point anyway.

@syz Even if we affect out the nature negatively and and some hybrids are born because of it(natural hybrid). Don’t you think it’s just the way how the nature works? I’m not talking about man-made hybrid here.

Take this as an example,even without human intervention some natural hybrids will still born and exist(I know they’re rare) as the result of some circumstances(natural circumstances). Like the Coywolf for example. No one causes this hybrid to exist in this world,that just happen when in certain areas where Coyote population bigger than wolf population,this of course,resulting in some of the wolf might find it hard to find its mate and eventually choose coyote as its mate(they have almost the same social structure and DNA that made it naturally possible. I also heard that they’re fertile). So why scientists attempt to follow their not-necessarily relevant ideology and remove this natural occurrence from the nature itself? What can’t they just let it to happen the way it should be by nature itself? What if some of those hybrids survive and eventually form a new line of species? Who knows. I have no perception that nature is a living and authorized being but it’s just the media that causes adaptation then will eventually ended up in evolution.

I feel bad if I’ve made you and others to answer what is little bit different from what I’m really asking. But it still good to see many different perception here.

ETpro's avatar

There is nothing else here to do.

roundsquare's avatar


“What can’t they just let it to happen the way it should be by nature itself?”’

There is nothing which says that what happened “should” or “shouldn’t.” If scientists are indeed doing what you are saying (and I didn’t know they were), I would have to guess that:
a) They have some idea of the impact this action will have (and also an idea of the impact of not acting).
b) They have some metric by which they are comparing the outcomes and made a decision.

If you don’t like what they are doing, you need to show why the alternative is better.

cazzie's avatar

We humans have upset balances that existed and meddled and coerced animals (and plants) into all sorts of strange states. They introduce one bug to get rid of another, only to find that the introduced bug creates a far worse problem.

My father worked for the Army in Alaska when it was working with wildlife management and conservation in the 60’s. He hated a lot of what he saw, (abused bounty system for wolves ears), but he took orphaned bear cubs home and looked after them until they could be released… same with moose and fox… even some beaver kits he found.

He had an interesting take on things. He believed in ‘our dominion over the animals’ (he was raised Catholic) but always said it was more than just deciding over the animals. We had a responsibility to look ahead.. not just 50 years down the road, but much farther. When it came to our effect on animals and our shared environment and told me that everything was connected, but we had upset the balance so much already, that we were, and would continue, to play ‘catch up’ with trying to mend the system, often doing more damage instead.

In the Americas, The Europeans started killing off and giving bounties for wolves ears when Elizabeth the 1st was still on the throne. They couldn’t have know the headache they were creating for the insurance companies with the over population of deer jumping out in front of cars in the 20th Century. Not looking ahead… playing catch up now with our annual cull (hunt) of these lovely creatures that are missing a predator.

There is just no going back.

ETpro's avatar

I would say that we are part of nature. Nature evolved us to be its thinking ape. It endowed us with the ability to develop sciences and to shape the environment around us, sometimes for the worse, sometimes to undo the damage we see we have done.

I do not know what the fossil record shows about hybrids like the Liger back through geologic time. This would be an interesting study to review if anyone has a link.

Qingu's avatar

The kingdom of bacteria is full of “hybrids.” Prokaryotes are really a bunch of perverts, with their constant “DNA swapping.”

ETpro's avatar

@Qingu Thanks. My mind was locked on largel hybrids, and I never even thought of our tiny progenitors.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because dogs save earthquake victims and wolves don’t.

Selective breeding has interfered with mother nature for more than 10,000 years.

iGotYou's avatar

There is money to be had long-term in patenting our sciences, likely human genomes.

ETpro's avatar

@Doctor_D The real answer to your question is because that is exactly what Mother Nature designed humans to do.

cazzie's avatar

And, about that, we seem to want to ‘improve our human condition’ as they say, so finding a way to alter our own immune system to ward off killer diseases….finding ways to build better shelter, better sources of heat and energy…. better ways to protect ourselves, our property (pets and livestock included) I think, ultimately, that is what drives humans to mess with things. Looking for a better way, a cheaper way, a cure for cancer; a cure for AIDS; a super crop to cure world hunger; a way to dispose of our vast quantities of human waste; a way to be young forever and never get sick; a way to look young forever; a way to save newborn babies that are sick; a way to prevent unwanted pregnancies; to solve the mysteries of the Universe…..

We humans are driven by some need to ‘improve’ our condition. With our so-called superior intellect, we impact our environment like no other animal on the face of the earth. Blessed with intellect, cursed with a severe deficiency of wisdom.

kess's avatar

Men do these things because they are ignorant of the way and purpose of Life.

As a result their imagination is put into wrong usage.

roundsquare's avatar

@kess Please elaborate.

Ron_C's avatar

Humans have been creating hybrids and breeding animals for particular traits form the time before written history. Nature has killed 99% of all the species that have ever existed. I don’t know how humans can interfere any more than what has occured naturally.

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