Wednesday, 8 October 2008

I Can See Where He's Coming From...

... but I think Marcel Berlins may have written the most idiotic paragraph I've seen in a while. In his article today in the the Guardian's G2 section he bemoans the obsession of some who in total conservation. I agree with him, evolution and life itself are unrelenting adversaries and we must not hold on to all species just for the sake of it. He then, smartly, suggests instead our efforts should focus on those creatures dying out due to human stupidity and greed. However he then writes:

Many species at risk are very close to other species that are not at risk; the differences are so small that only the scientists have any interest in them. My main reason for doubting that all species are essential is that so many are completely unknown to us. Scientists have told us that they exist, and we may have caught a glimpse of a few of them on wildlife programmes, but they are otherwise never seen by us, and we know nothing about them. How many mammal species can you think of? Can the remainder be that important? Can their loss matter that much, to you or to the world? Of course we must fight hard to retain as many species as we can; but it isn't a tragedy if we lose quite a few along the way.
Just because an animal hasn't featured on some wildlife programme or you haven't heard of it, it doesn't mean that animal might not be IMPORTANT to the survival of many other species. I couldn't believe the stupidity of that statement, it's like those who argue for God's existence just because we haven't found the answer to everything yet. If we don't know how it works, God must of done it. That sort of thing. The argument from ignorance seems to be spreading...

2 comments:

Bill said...

I see what you are driving at, but I'm with Marcel Berlins. Who are we humans to decide what is and what is not 'important'? Humans are just one animal on the planet amongst many others; species evolve and disappear because of their adaptability to their physical surroundings, or lack thereof. I doubt very much if bovine species, for example, would have evolved the way they have witohut human intervention, because of our desire for both meat and dairy products. If a species is intrinsically 'important' I've no doubt that 'Mother Nature' will make sure it survives. I see no particular virtue in expending enormous resources to maintain species which would otherwise disappear any more than I see the virtue of maintaining many of our more recent, or some of our older, buildings with 'listed' status; not everything is equally important. Do you really think 'Centre Point' (Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street) really deserves its listed status, for example?

Jae said...

The reason we must make judgement calls is that our very survival may depend on the survival of some obscure but poorly researched part of the food chain. The "laws" of survival of the fitness give us the right to ensure we protect our species propagation by ensuring those species who allow us to live continue to prosper. This is why we have caused cows and sheep to evolve the way they have... for the benefit of humankind.

A creature that is "intrinsically" important to the continuation of life on Earth may not be important to the continuation of our species, that's why we need to make the judgement calls, and ensure Mother Nature doesn't write us out of existence.