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Scientists Create a "Worth Saving" Index For Endangered Animals 259

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-worth-the-effort dept.
If you're one of the last hairy-nosed-wombats left in Australia things got a little worse for you today. Thanks to a new mathematical tool created by researchers from James Cook University and the University of Adelaide, the wombat has been classified as not worth saving. Co-author of the safe index Professor Corey Bradshaw says he doesn't think people should give up on saving extremely endangered animals but adds, "...if you take a strictly empirical view, things that are well below in numbering in the hundreds - white-footed rock rats, certain types of hare wallabies, a lot of the smaller mammals that have been really nailed by the feral predators like cats, and foxes - in some cases it is probably not worthwhile putting a lot of effort because there's just no chance."
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Scientists Create a "Worth Saving" Index For Endangered Animals

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday April 08, 2011 @10:58AM (#35757600)

    I know it's not very politically-correct to say it, but I don't think we should be trying to save every species. The prevailing assumption today seems to be that mankind is causing every extinction on the planet and, as such, we should be working to save every species and variety of endangered animal. Even ignoring that fact that mankind is part of nature too, extinction is a natural process that was taking place long before we existed. It seems to me that a world where species DON'T go extinct (thanks to our efforts) would disrupt the natural processes of evolution. Our guilt complex could create a very unnatural world.

    And for the record, I think Pandas are cute. But they're not exactly a hearty lot.

    • I guess alot of this would come down to one question, are humans responisble for why they are an endangered species?

      If we are then we should probably put a effort into saving them especially if they are essential to their habitats such as bats and what not. If we are no way related to why they are going extinct such as a natural disease or predator in the area, then let nature take its course.

      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 08, 2011 @11:13AM (#35757906) Homepage Journal

        I guess alot of this would come down to one question, are humans responisble for why they are an endangered species?

        There are other relevant and unanswerable questions, such as would they have gone extinct without our help. However, since we can't save them all, the MOST important question BY FAR is how important is this creature to the ecosystem upon which I depend. Everything else is just moral masturbation.

        • You know, you're not very important to the ecosystem upon which I depend.

        • > Everything else is just moral masturbation.

          Perhaps, but some of us think morality should influence policy decisions, our decisions, or the decisions of institutions that study endangered animals.

          Nobody I've ever met--and nobody I would ever trust--advocates for absolute amorality. Open-mindedness, yes. Largely scientific decision-making processes, sure. But at the end of the day, one should not discount the morality of acts simply because they don't contribute to your own survival. If someone rapes

          • I know what you mean.
            Though I haven't taken to your particular example of legitimizing rape, I have been tempted to believe some other offensive things in the process of treating morality as an emotion to be passed over in favor of "logical self-interest", which may or may not coincide with common moral conceptions. (However, I am still quite willing to consider a different moral angle on moral issues such as environmental protection.)

          • by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Friday April 08, 2011 @12:36PM (#35759392)

            I think there can be a lot of interesting argument where morality and rationality intersect. It can depend largely upon how you interpret morality.

            Using your example of rape. If some random stranger is raped, immediately I may not care. But the person who raped the original victim could then go on to rape my sister, or someone else could see that rape has no consequences and rape my sister. The emotion impact would then mean that I would have to support my sister, or that she would be unable to support me. Preventing the original rape then becomes a matter of self interest.

            Referring to endangered animals: we can probably agree that preventing animals from going extinct is a largely moral goal, and saving more animals is even more moral. Unfortunately, we do not have unlimited resources to save every animal there is, so directing some of our resources toward and animal that may have little to no chance of surviving anyway would reduce the available resources for other animals, potentially leading to them becoming extinct - an immoral action.

            I think a lot of this comes from humans evolution as social animals, moral actions help the whole group of people, and largely serve the purposes of the individual. People often bag on religion as deciding the moral code, but atheist morality puts a lot of this stuff in terms of helping other people, which will eventually serve your own interest.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          There are other relevant and unanswerable questions, such as would they have gone extinct without our help.

          100% of all living things will go extinct, without question.

      • by Ferzerp (83619)

        I'll buy the "especially if they are essential" line partially. I say partially because if these species are nearly extinct and their ecosystem hasn't been destroyed then we really should question how essential they are.

        Otherwise, I must ask you one thing. Why exactly should we put forth an effort? Because it feels good? Are we unnatural? I've seen a lot of claims like yours, but they never say why other than appeals to what feels right to an individual.

        • Are you seriously dismissing "it just feels good" as a motivator to do something? I would say that doing things becasue they make you feel good is probably one of the strongest human motivators that exists. Why do humans consume drugs and alcohol, even though they know these things can be unhealthy? Why do people make anonymous donations to charities? Why do people help little old ladies across the street? Why do people donate money to charities for other countries? Why do people cheat on their partners? Wh
        • by delinear (991444)
          I've always thought there was some hypochrisy where someone can, on the one hand, say that humans polluting is bad, but on the other say that humans saving a species from extinction is good (unless, of course, it's the human pollution causing the extinction). To me both are interfering in the course of nature. Either they're both bad or they're both good or they both make no difference. How do we know that the continued survival of one species that would have died out without human intervention isn't hamper
      • by tompaulco (629533)
        I guess alot of this would come down to one question, are humans responisble for why they are an endangered species?
        That depends. Is a fox responsible for preserving an endangered species that it has preyed almost into extinction? It could be beneficial to the fox to do so if that is the only thing that it can eat. But I doubt it would consider the long run effects when it is hungry now.
        • by delinear (991444)
          Unless you're suggesting humans have the cognitive abilities and morals of a fox that's clearly a false argument. We have the ability to make much more informed decisions about where our food comes from, there's no real excuse to eat an animal into extinction (albeit we still do). We at least have the ability to debate our actions and decide on a course of action that isn't entirely self serving.
      • by Jhon (241832)

        "I guess alot of this would come down to one question, are humans responisble for why they are an endangered species?"

        I think you're placing too high a value on the answer to that question.

        Humans are a predator. Humans, like other animals, can and do push out other animals in an area.

        I for one do not think it's a bad thing that many life forms have went (or are endanger of becoming) extinct due to human action. smallpox, for example. Or polio. And I'm quite happy I don't have mountain lions strolling do

      • by mini me (132455)

        I totally get the emotional reasonings why we want to save animals, however, attempting to look at it objectively, why is it considered natural when a cat or fox leads another animal to extinction, but when humans do the same it is unnatural? We are all just animals trying to survive and expand the population to help ensure long term success for our own species. The cats and foxes of the world are trying to use up every resource they possibly can, why is it wrong for humans to do the same?

    • by redemtionboy (890616) on Friday April 08, 2011 @11:07AM (#35757772)

      Pandas are the perfect example of something not worth saving. There are many that suppose that pandas were on their way out as a species without our interference just because of the extreme inefficiency of their bodies. It takes an extreme amount of energy to process the bamboo it eats, not to mention the birth problems it faces with low birth rates and high infant mortality. The only reason we have rallied behind pandas is because they're cute, and maybe there is some benefit to having a cute staple animal we've saved as a rallying cry for conservation, but I'd like to think there were easier options out there.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        I used to joke that Koalas evolved their cuteness as a survival mechanism. They're so cute that humans take them out of their hostile natural environment and put them in nice safe zoos, where all they have to do is sleep all day and occasionally make cute for the crowds. It's a kind of symbiotic relationship where being attractive really pays off (kind of like Hollywood).

        • by Moryath (553296)

          The standing joke among scientists in the field is that there are three modern-day evolutions that determine whether a creature will survive the next two centuries.

          #1 - Lives in an environment humans can't survive in long enough to colonize (deep sea, extremely high mountain, antarctic)
          #2 - Looks "extremely cute" by human standards such that either humans will feed them, or humans will not get pissed off when they break into the garbage looking for food (raccoons, foxes, pigeons, etc)
          #3 - Small enough and n

          • The standing joke among scientists in the field is that there are three modern-day evolutions that determine whether a creature will survive the next two centuries.

            #1 - Lives in an environment humans can't survive in long enough to colonize (deep sea, extremely high mountain, antarctic)
            #2 - Looks "extremely cute" by human standards such that either humans will feed them, or humans will not get pissed off when they break into the garbage looking for food (raccoons, foxes, pigeons, etc)
            #3 - Small enough and numerous enough that they are just not fucking going to go away because we don't notice them until they are present in EXTREMELY high numbers. Roaches, ants, mice/rats, etc.

            #4 Is it tasty and if so, can it be bred in captivity easily.

      • Pandas are the perfect example of something not worth saving.

        Pandas are of huge cultural significance to China. The effort required to save them is clearly worth it to the Chinese. If death by natural causes is your only meter stick for intervention, then should be not send foreign aid? After all most of these people in droughts, earthquakes, mudslides, floods etc are dying of natural causes. Should leave them to die in peace as well?

        • by delinear (991444)
          That's different because humans are prevalent across the whole planet. Letting some die won't stop others replacing them, so showing compassion by sending aid doesn't negatively impact the planet. Saving a different species that would otherwise have died out potentially is having a negative impact by preventing either that species overcoming its weaknesses or an alternative species taking its place.
      • by quatin (1589389) on Friday April 08, 2011 @11:59AM (#35758768)

        Pandas are the perfect example of something we should save. The low breeding ratio for pandas is an evolutionary trait that's beneficial in its natural environment. A panda is a giant cow with teeth and claws. It has no natural predators once it reaches adult size. If pandas were to breed on the level of rabbits it would destroy the plant ecosystem in Asia. The truth is if it were not for deforestation by humans, the pandas would be prolific. We need to balance our effect on the environment.

        Examples of animals not worth saving would be the endangered freshwater mollusk colony in north Florida that was at risk due to low water levels caused by prolonged drought.

        • Not to mention that the most important thing that will save pandas-- habitat preservation-- is the very thing that will protect many other species, as well as serving a positive benefit to humans (habitat provides a carbon sink, erosion and flood prevention, groundwater filtration, etc. or even just as land reserved for future generations to exploit). Protecting pandas has a lot of positive collateral effects.

        • No, not really (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Moraelin (679338) on Friday April 08, 2011 @12:54PM (#35759640) Journal

          No, not really. A cow would actually have the digestive tract that can break down cellulose walls and extract a lot more nutrient from that bamboo. A panda is more like an overgrown carnivore, with a carnivore digestive tract, which eats bamboo, and shits most of it undigested.

          It gets extremely little protein or energy per pound eaten, and in fact ridiculously so. It has to spend most of its day eating, and avoid moving too much or too fast, or it will literally starve to death. It can't even walk up more than very gentle slopes, because it just doesn't have the energy budget for that. Chasing prey or running away from a predator is right out.

          Even the low reproduction rate may well have to do with just not having the energy or protein to produce or feed larger litters. It has nothing to do with some clever design that protects the environment (there isn't any conceivable evolutionary pressure that takes that into account), but simply with the fact that it's so piss-poor at feeding itself, that it just can't do more than a cub in a blue moon.

          Truth is, it's not very fit, in the survival of the fittest sense, and it doesn't have an isolated niche like the animals in Australia had. I mean, it is isolated by mountains and deserts, which posed a barrier to other species coming in, but it's not nearly as insurmountable as thousands of miles of ocean are. In the wild, it would be only a matter of time before some predator evolves or manages to get over the mountains to fill the niche of feeding on all those juicy pandas, or some bigger herbivore comes to out-compete them.

          It's also a very new species, at evolution scales. The earliest thing even remotely recognizable as a panda lived some three million years ago (though the intermediate links evolving in that direction are, obviously, older.) By way of comparison, our split between us and chimps is 6 million years ago.

          It's too early to say it would be such a viable species without us.

          And either way, it was a piss-poor species which existed there just by virtue of being isolated from either predators or prey or competing species. It's a carnivore who had to start eating bamboo just for lack of prey, never got any good at it, and survived in that niche only for lack of competition. In a sense, it was already living in a natural zoo, and it would become extinct within decades of those barriers around it failing in any way.

    • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday April 08, 2011 @11:14AM (#35757916)

      True. The problem is that his metric is wrong. The easiest way to deal with a pesky endangered animal that is blocking your development has now become to actually kill it even more. Once it goes below the specified threshold, it's put on the not-worth-saving list, and you can merrily go on developing.

      The proper metric is how important a particular species is to its local environment. Think keystone species like Krill, wolves, Killer Whales or Tuna. The problem is that this is difficult - how do you measure importance? How do you know you measured something right, or at all? The response to this is that of caution: if we don't know which ones to save, we'll try to save as many as we can, and hope we pick right.

      • by gnick (1211984)

        Think keystone species like Krill, wolves, Killer Whales or Tuna.

        Krill are especially important - We all know what happens once they go extinct. We gotta get protein for our soylent green from somewhere.

        • Fry: It's made out of people!
          Leela: No, there's already a drink for that—Soylent Cola.
          Fry: Oh. How's it taste?
          Leela: It varies from person to person.

    • I've been saying this a long time now. The biosphere is supposed to be in flux, and for all the species that go extinct (and 99% over earth's history have, and that's not hyperbole) that everybody seems to wring their hands over, nobody seems to notice the species that develop (and that the number of species over time on an epochal scale has always been net positive).
      • by scubamage (727538)
        I think that some of us do notice. However a lot of the most fascinating ones are ones that terrify people. Look at MRSA and other treatment resilient bacteria. They're the only things that cycle through generations fast enough for most of humanity to notice that they're changing; plus they have a profound impact on our health. I personally think they're incredibly fascinating.
      • by hedwards (940851)

        The problem is that the rate of decline at this point has rarely if ever been seen before. The argument you're making there is one which isn't based upon any actual scientific evidence or theory. The problem is that it's unusual for an animal to go extinct without there being repercussions along the food chain. In the past when it was happening naturally, it wasn't that big of a deal because the rate of change was sufficiently slow that things would evolve to fill the hole.

        These days though, it's happening

        • I wouldn't worry too much about the planet. the planet will do just fine.
          check the earth out in a million years and there will be just as much diversity if not more.

          we might make it uninhapitable for us for a while though.

          Anyone know if there's any concerted effort being made to collect genetic samples from endangered animals right now?
          200 years down the line if we had lots of really high quality cell samples from some of the stuff we're killing off now we might be able to bring some of them back.

      • Well except for certain mass extinctions [wikipedia.org] which is of a particular concern now.
    • The prevailing assumption today seems to be that mankind is causing every extinction on the planet and, as such, we should be working to save every species and variety of endangered animal

      If we had the attitude of Mr. Cook in the U.S., it would save loads of tax dollars and businesses wouldn't have to move or cancel expansion plans nearly as often. It's like programs that help save lives. If one costs $10,000 per life saved, and another costs $500,000 per life saved, clearly we should forgo the latter and concentrate on the former. Unfortunately, people are too sympathetic for logic to take over.

      • Or there is the coldly pragmatic approach: Calculate how much a life is worth, and just let anyone who would cost more die.
    • I never really thought of it that way. You may bring up an interesting dichotomy: My general impression is that most most animal preservation activists tend to be evolutionists, even though evolutionists should believe that extinction is a natural part of the evolutionary cycle. On the other hand, religionists tend to believe that we should do our best to preserve every creature the deity created, but my impression is they tend to have more lax environmental policy.

      I'm not suggesting causal relationships

      • My impression is that in the US, the correlations are mostly there because of political parties. There's no logical reason most of them should be there. There are also some correlations due to education and its ties to liberalism and cute fuzzy animals on the one hand, and correlations between business success and lack-of-english-majory-thoughts (The why vs. the how) or cute-fuzzy-animals on the other.

        • The US only has two significent political parties, and they both define the sides on every debate and are in turn defined by them. Over the decades it has to some extent split the country into two ideological camps, caught in mutual loathing.
    • by scubamage (727538)
      I agree with you OP. Sadly while mankind is responsible for a LOT of extinctions that happen, we're not the sole cause. Natural selection implies that something has to be selected against. We can save some things, but not everything. So, lets triage our efforts on the ones that have the most sense. Also, pandas are stupid and made of poop.
    • its WRONG to say it.

      if you have a problem, you fix it. its as simple as that. when you go into calculations of 'worth' as if your biosphere was a business venture, the 'not worth' you have 'not saved' comes bites you in the ass due to chain reactions in biosphere.

      i see that as an ill that capitalist mindset brought to our civilization - we are seeing everything from a window of 'cost/benefit'. not surprisingly, just like how economies come crashing down due to extreme adherence to these cost/benefit p
      • by hedwards (940851)

        Indeed, it's OK to let things go extinct, at as far as the populations in the wild go, but the determination ought to be whether it's our fault or natural, not whether or not its cost effective. We're unlikely to know the cost of letting a species go extinct until it's gone. Beyond that though, this is like climate change in that the sooner you start to deal with the problem the less costly and the simpler the fix is.

        • by Qzukk (229616)

          it's OK to let things go extinct ... but the determination ought to be whether it's our fault or natural, not whether or not its cost effective.

          By that logic, it's OK to let bananas go extinct, yet companies are pumping quite a lot of cash into saving them.

          • by hedwards (940851)

            I don't see a problem there. Just because it's OK to let them go extinct doesn't necessarily mean that it's optimal to do so. Technically though, you're referring to a particular type of banana with no genetic variation and a complete inability to reproduce itself. The bananas that most of us know as bananas are in essence already extinct, they just haven't yet disappeared.

      • And... so what *should* be base these decisions on? You do not have infinite time and resources. The world does not work that way.

      • Cost/benefit is not a uniquely human attribute. When a big cat is hunting, it performs cost/benefit analysis on whether it's pray is worth chasing - based on the energy required to chase it down (cost) vs the amount of energy to be gained by eating it (benefit).

        All animals do this, more or less.

    • by Sloppy (14984) on Friday April 08, 2011 @11:44AM (#35758514) Homepage Journal

      It seems to me that a world where species DON'T go extinct (thanks to our efforts) would disrupt the natural processes of evolution. Our guilt complex could create a very unnatural world.

      What's so great about evolution or living in a natural world? Like gravity, evolution merely is. Are you suggesting it's some kind of ideal to strive for or preserve?

      Everything comes down to the question: What do you want? Unless you happen to like like catching smallpox, starving, falling down and skinning your knee, or sleeping in the rain -- or yes, if you like losing species whose DNA codes potentially useful proteins or species that are just plain pleasingly cute -- mother nature doesn't "want" what you want. I'm not saying be either her friend or her foe; I'm saying it's silly to want to respect her "wishes." She doesn't respect your wishes. That bitch is cold.

      Fuck evolution. Evolution is something you need to understand and perhaps use, but it's not something to love.

      Not that I disagree with you at all that we can't or shouldn't expend the effort to save every species. But damn, using "it's a natural process" as a reason for deciding a certain way -- ICK!

      • Thank goodness I'm not the only one who balked at GP's post. Seems like everyone around here treats evolution (at least, in the sense of mass extinction) as some sort of moral imperative.

        I have the sense that an "appeal to nature" in ethics is the lowest form of logical fallacy. One cannot derive "what should be" from "what is."

  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Friday April 08, 2011 @11:06AM (#35757752)

    Can I propose the arbuscular mychorrhizal fungi for protection? Not sure what it is, but it was the first thing to pop up when I typed 'endangered microorganism' in Google.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/cx815t3578004x20/ [springerlink.com]

    -- New business idea: endangered species marketing strategy consultant

    • YES!!! Mycorrhizal fungi are absolutely essential for the continued existence of all plant-based ecosystems!!

  • by Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) on Friday April 08, 2011 @11:10AM (#35757836)

    Professor Corey Bradshaw was assassinated by PETA agents for daring to imply that any animal was less important than any human. Their press release states that any other scientists that dare to put the survival of the hated human race above the that of the least important member of the animal kingdom would be similarly put to death.

  • Humanity unable to stop survival of the fittest. Mother nature wins this round, but humanity still hopeful that they will be able to control the planets temperature.
    • by unity100 (970058)
      there is no bullshit like 'survival of the fittest' when humanity is the factor that consciously brings in cats, dogs, and breeds and releases them as pests over wildlife. its not natural. its unconscious, unintended engineering of ignorant masses.
      • There is a problem with your comment. Humanity is an animal as well and the laws of 'survival of the fittest' do not cease to exist just because humanity is involved. Cats, dogs, and other breeds have created a symbiotic relationship with us. This relationship gives them an advantage over other species and provides them assess to new more fertile hunting grounds.
  • The best way forward is to preserve habitats, not species. Then you don't have to choose for induvidual species...
    All habitats are not equal anyway (just listen to any nature documentary about a coral reef). We don't have trouble saying some are more pretty/valuable than others.

  • who named this thing "hairy-nosed wombat".

    It's like naming your kid "Gaylord" and being surprised he grows up to be a male nurse.
  • by ATestR (1060586) on Friday April 08, 2011 @11:21AM (#35758052) Homepage

    At one point, the Smallpox variola virus was almost completely wiped out, surviving only in a few laboratories around the world.

    Now, thanks to the efforts of some people who were able to free some of those remaining captive virus, it may someday be possible to reintroduce them into the wild, allowing them to once again freely complete in nature.

    Won't that be nice? Another endangered species brought back from the brink of extinction.

    • by shuz (706678)
      Viruses, depending on your definition, are not even considered life! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virus [wikipedia.org]. Nasa's definition of life is "Life is a self-sustained chemical system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution" Viruses do not strictly meet this criteria. And since we only put "life" on the endangered species list your argument fails.
    • by Twinbee (767046)

      My germs!
      My precious germs!
      They never harmed a soul!
      They never had the chance!

  • This is basically triage for endangered species. As hard as it is, you don't want to waste your time on someone with a likely irreparable mortal wound when you have five others that might be saved if they are given priority.
    • Unfortunately it's not that simple. It's like there being someone who will need 3 docs operating on him while 3 patients die... but, unbeknown to the doctors, that 3-doc patient holds the life of 60 others in his grasp.

      We know precious little about how ecosystems are interconnected. It could well be that a certain species we allow to go extinct is the exclusive prey of another one. Or that their dung is needed for certain beetles to survive (which in turn are required by some flowers to get pollenized or wh

  • Did they get this idea from cracked.com [google.com]?
  • What do they mean by empirical, other than this ratio they speak or and this 5000 animal number? I was under the impression that all animals had their place in the ecosystem and that if one species goes extinct, it will have an impact on other species. Or am I wrong?
  • And I suppose the efforts to save the American Bison were wasted since they were down to a few hundred in number at one point.... oh wait, now they have used up all the room we have given them and cattle ranchers are complaining their are too many.
  • Waste of money, brains and time...

    It's an acronym I use at work now and again, I can't see why it can't be applied to it's namesake.
  • Cows, chickens, pigs, lobsters, etc. I'll bet there would be a lot more hairy-nosed wombats in the ecosystem if I could have one for breakfast.
    • I'll bet there would be a lot more hairy-nosed wombats in the ecosystem if I could have one for breakfast.

      Because being edible totally saved the passenger pigeon.

  • I hope the seminal work of Karl Pilkington [pilkipedia.co.uk] is getting the attention it deserves in this field.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday April 08, 2011 @12:07PM (#35758918)

    And since we know every possible effect the existence (or extinction) of an animal has to the ecosystem, we can sensibly make that list in the first place.

  • One of the things to consider is the cost benefit as a whole. But the problem is, what is the true benefit of saving anything. The benefit can be quantified if you turn endangered animals into food and products.

    While PETA may not like it, the reason there is an abundance of Bison/buffalo is because of its valuable as food. We would likely see a sharp decline in bovine if McDonald's only sold chicken and if leather went completely out of style. It has been proposed to do the same for Tigers, Pandas, a
  • In the scheme of "worth saving" where do humans fit in? You know since we cause all the problems.

  • California Condor, Buffalo, etc. Scientists, letting their "faith" get in the way of good science.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Buffalo have been brought back from the verge of extinction because they are kinda tasty. I don't know why we've worked so hard to save the California Condor, but then I've never had a Condor egg omelette.
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Friday April 08, 2011 @12:22PM (#35759162)
    Not worth saving.
  • Yes

    It is true, extinction is a natural thing and some species would go extinct without human interference. The thing is human influence is now so thorough, effecting every environment on Earth it is hard to imagine that any species would be in the same situation today, for better or worse if humans hadn't developed technology or perhaps never existed at all.

    Sure, extinction is an important part of evolution but so is genetic diversity. The planet is losing that diversity very quickly due to human in
  • So we should just give up an trying to save ethical politicians because they are far too few in number to survive anyway? Perhaps we could base the decision on whether or not to save them based on other factors, like "cuteness" or "taste". In that case, we should just go ahead and let the giant condor die off -- they're ugly and nobody wants to eat them.
  • The population of whooping cranes got as low as 20. With lots of effort and publicity, 45 years later there are now about 400. If we followed the judgement of this joker, there'd be no whoopers now. Professor Corey Bradshaw? HAH! More like Professor Irwin Corey.

    Yes, some economic judgement has to be applied to saving species, but the crucial thing is to use good judgement.

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