Science Questions

Is conservation pointless?

Sun, 28th Oct 2012

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Question

Jeremy Baker, Facebook asked:

Trying to preserve species seems rather silly. Life is in fact the process of evolution. By preserving life and not allowing evolution we are creating life that is ill adapted to the every changing environment. Don't you agree?

Answer

Simon -   I would say [this argument] misses the scale of the problem were facing at the moment.  This is the biggest mass extinction that there has been since the time of the dinosaurs.  Its hard to believe that were more potent than a meteor strike, but that does seem to be the case.  I'm not a hippy by any means.  I'm not awfully concerned about the preservation of animals or plants or things for their own sake.  I'm partly for the preservation of the natural world, for the preservation of man.  Not only would it be good to have forests for their own sake, but they are vital to our survival.

Ben -   Now, I've heard the arguments before actually that when were conserving an environment, what were stopping is a process called succession that normally would push things on into the next phase.  So, scrub land will become forest, etc.  I guess this argument works in the same way that by keeping a variety of different ecosystems around, were actually helping to preserve more life and more biodiversity.

Simon -   Precisely and as well as that there's a lot of research now suggesting that biodiversity for its own sake appears to actually matter.  Forests with more different variety of trees tend to be less prone to desertification, less prone to disease, there are fewer landslides.  They're just more resilient as a whole.

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