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Author Topic: Can conservation be counterproductive?  (Read 5096 times)

Offline Don_1

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« on: 21/06/2011 08:20:57 »
An excellent report by Channel 4's Dispatches programme last night shows the darker side of conservation, it's errors and how, all too often, conservation organisations concentrate on the species which are most likely to win the "Ah" and "Oh" factor with the public, while ignoring the plight of those species which have greater needs. The programme points out the shortfall of conservation organisations in respect of reptiles and amphibians which are facing extinction from the spread of Chytrid fungus and the need to include local tribes in its effort to save biodiversity.

While we are often bombarded with requests to help save Elephants, Lions, Pandas and the like, when are we encouraged to help save Frogs, Toads, Newts, Snakes, Lizards, Geckos and (my particular bone of contention) Tortoises? Rarely, if ever.

Watch 'Conservation's Dirty Secrets' here.


I might add that I have been guilty of banging on about the plight of the Tortoise here, on the odd occasion.
« Last Edit: 21/06/2011 10:22:28 by Don_1 »


 

Offline graham.d

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #1 on: 21/06/2011 10:25:56 »
Well, really! you'll be wanting to save spiders and wasps next  ::)
 

Offline BenV

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #2 on: 21/06/2011 12:35:42 »
Not to mention the species specific parasites, which will be lost forever when the cute big species goes - somehow they always get missed out from the conservation charity leaflets!
 

Offline Don_1

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #3 on: 21/06/2011 17:24:49 »
Quite so Ben. Even those parasites have a roll to play in the greater cycle of life. Conservation is more than just a cuddly bear or playful lion cub, its the dung beetle which keeps the great plains from becoming a ..... Ahem..... well, I think you get where I'm coming from.

My point is, it may be of no use at all to protect the fruit bat, if you do not protect the insects which pollinate the flowers which will become the fruit and the microbes which will turn the bat droppings into something the trees can utilise. It needs to be a whole package. You cannot pick and choose the fluffy bits and ignore the creepy crawlies.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #4 on: 22/06/2011 00:52:27 »
This is something that will be debated far into the future.

Should we protect the Louse?

What do we define as a pest, and what do we define as a beneficial organism?  Wolves, and Grizzly Bears were once termed as a pest.  Now there are efforts to reintroduce them to our forests.

What about the North American Locust.  The USA being one of the few countries that have ever eradicated the biblical plague.  Should we try to re-introduce African Locusts to the USA?

Yellow Jackets?

Rattle Snakes?

The wish may be to redefine nature, but no human can ever do the task of Natural Selection.  Certainly organizing a group effort to do so is a far more difficult task.
 

Offline Geezer

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #5 on: 22/06/2011 07:05:27 »
It's really pretty obvious  ;D

The only "right" answer to this question is that it's time to go. If we (humans) want to keep being so successful, we will have to do it somewhere else. Earth will not be able to sustain us, so we should become the caretakers of Earth and expand somewhere else.

The alternative is to artificially limit our success, but I don't think that will work for very long.

 

Offline Don_1

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #6 on: 22/06/2011 10:35:46 »
The alternative is to artificially limit our success.....

Steady Geezer, you'll be accused of being the next Hitler! But, personally, I think it may come to just that.



The Louse, Locust, Yellow Jacket (wasp), Rattlesnake, Cockroach, Redback Spider, Black Rat, Aphids, Colorado Beetle, Powdery Mildew and Honey Fungus not to mention the Mosquito and Tsetse Fly and the Malaria, Dengue and Yellow fever and Sleeping sickness they transmit.

All these and many more besides could be described as species we could well do without. But consider this; suppose we have already done great harm to a species which we considered a pest. Now suppose that pest, whether directly or indirectly, was also a controlling factor in the spread of the Varroa Mite! Could we have rid ourselves of a problem, only to have increased the problem faced by our great ally, the Honey Bee?

I am not suggesting that this is the case, but it must surely be a possibility that such a scenario could take place.

I am afraid that true conservation may be a bitter pill for us to swallow.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #7 on: 22/06/2011 11:29:09 »
Lots of things eat mosquitoes and presumably locusts too.  Although in the case of the Rocky Mountain Locust, it has been extinct for a century, so any damage to the food chain would already be done.

As far as Malaria.

Apparently both American and European mosquitoes are quite capable of hosting the disease, and in fact both the USA and Europe had endemic Malaria, and managed to kill enough mosquitoes that the disease was essentially eradicated.  So, I suppose a few bites don't bother me as long as they aren't lethal.

Flies and maggots may be annoying, but likely have a vital role in decomposition.

------------------------

I would like to see colonization of other planets and moons.  But, it is unlikely there will ever be a mass migration away from Earth in the same way as people migrated from Europe to the USA or from the Eastern USA to the West.  The transportation will be prohibitive to transport a billion people to another planet.

The level of recycling required to build a colony on the moon or Mars will be extraordinary.  The moon in particular has lots of Oxygen, but is limited with Hydrogen and Carbon.  So things like a plastic shopping bag might be precious beyond all else.
 

Offline rosy

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #8 on: 22/06/2011 12:05:59 »
Quote
I would like to see colonization of other planets and moons.  But, it is unlikely there will ever be a mass migration away from Earth in the same way as people migrated from Europe to the USA or from the Eastern USA to the West.  The transportation will be prohibitive to transport a billion people to another planet.

Of course, even if we did see a "mass migration" to other planets, there would still be earth-dwellers left behind, who would still have an inclination to survive (and to breed). The old anti-evolution idiocy "if we're descended from monkeys, how come there are still monkeys?" might be rephrased as "if Americans are (mostly) descended from Europeans, how come there are still Europeans?" and again to "if Martians are descended from Earthlings, how come there are still Earthlings?"

... because although we may preserve the human line against total extinction by sending some (even a large percentage of) individuals off to colonise other planets, unless absolutely everyone went along, it wouldn't make more than a few years worth of difference to the effect of humans on the Earth-system.

As an individual, knowing that the descendents of my parents' cousins are breeding successfully somewhere a long way off doesn't make me any less inclined to have and raise babies of my own. Nieces and nephews here-where-I-can-see-them might make a difference, but anything more remote than that? Hardly!
 

Offline graham.d

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #9 on: 22/06/2011 13:48:44 »
I would like to see colonization of other planets and moons.  But, it is unlikely there will ever be a mass migration away from Earth in the same way as people migrated from Europe to the USA or from the Eastern USA to the West.  The transportation will be prohibitive to transport a billion people to another planet.

Actually back in the 16th century the idea of transporting large numbers of people in wooden square riggers across the Antlantic Ocean must have seemed quite an unlikely scenario too.

In any case, the people who went had their own personal motivation for doing so (like adventure rather than starvation, at least in some cases) and, as Rosy alludes to, it was not for the benefit of those left behind. In any case the people left behind survived as a people and populations have since grown everywhere, largely due to more efficient farming and a more enlightened (if not necessarily fairer) distribution of wealth.

A lot of people emigrate on the basis that the "grass looks greener...". For the mass emigration from Ireland to the USA this was certainly not true in a literal sense :-)
 

Offline CliffordK

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #10 on: 22/06/2011 21:15:07 »
Actually back in the 16th century the idea of transporting large numbers of people in wooden square riggers across the Antlantic Ocean must have seemed quite an unlikely scenario too.
I suppose we are rambling a bit.
500 years ago, they probably wouldn't have been able to conceive of the debate whether 12 hrs was too slow to travel from Europe to the USA, and if it would be better to do the trip in 2 hrs.

Yet, I doubt we'll be able to do the 40 light-minute trip to Ganymede in the same time the Concorde can fly from Europe to the USA.  Do you think they'll serve peanuts on the flights?

Civilian space travel will certainly depend on whether things like a space elevator ever become reality, and whether we can get more effective lightweight, mobile energy sources.

Europe's population now is much greater than what it was during the great exodus during the 1800's.  Likewise, if there is space colonization, it likely will have a minimal population impact to those living on Earth.

Perhaps first man will choose to make more permanent types of artificial islands and floating ocean communities. 

And with more progress, there will be more species that just seem to "get in the way".

In Oregon, the Spotted Owl has severe problems with certain types of habitat destruction.  Its close relative, the Barred Owl doesn't.  Is one of the two as good as the other?
 

Offline graham.d

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #11 on: 23/06/2011 17:42:12 »
With what we know today, interstellar travel is not a practical possibility. I like to think that it may be possible at some time though. I am a believer in the idea that "everything we think we know is almost certainly wrong".
 

Offline imatfaal

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #12 on: 23/06/2011 19:25:41 »
I am a believer in the idea that "everything we think we know is almost certainly wrong".
Damn! I think I know what I am talking about. 
Double Damn! Have just realised that proves the rule in my case
 

Offline graham.d

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« Reply #13 on: 24/06/2011 13:28:59 »
Aha, you see belief is not the same as knowledge :-)

At least that's my get out for making a logical contradiction!
 

Offline HopDavid

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #14 on: 25/06/2011 02:04:33 »
The moon in particular has lots of Oxygen, but is limited with Hydrogen and Carbon.  So things like a plastic shopping bag might be precious beyond all else.

The LCROSS ejecta was 20% volatiles of which 6% was water. The volatiles included hydrogen and nitrogen compounds as well. The mini-SAR radar of Chandrayaan-1 detected what seem to be thick sheets of ice in the permanently shadowed craters. newbielink:http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/Mini-RF/multimedia/feature_ice_like_deposits.html [nonactive]
 

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Can conservation be counterproductive?
« Reply #14 on: 25/06/2011 02:04:33 »

 

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