Why conservation? (on Southern Fried Science)
As long as we’re considering human nature in terms of how we treat one another this new year, we may as well consider how we treat other species. That is, conservation.
Once you start thinking about Homo sapiens as just another organism competing for resources, traditional views about conservation start to crumble. We’re raised, once again in anthropocentrism, believing that it is our job to take care of the planet. But if we’re competing, who really cares what we destroy along the way? Is it not just part of evolution, of natural selection and survival of the fittest?
I have a lot of thoughts on this matter, but I’d like to point you all to a post by Andrew Thaler of Southern Fried Science. As a biologist studying hydrothermal vents, he often wrestles with the question of, “who cares? Why should we save hydrothermal vents?” In his post, he really gets down to the thick of it, the point that gets to me every time: we evolved behavior to care about the environment.
What makes us truly unique is not our ability to destroy, but our ability to conserve. No other species in the history of the planet has recognized the inherent value in another species, not as a resource, food source, or substrate, but simply as another living organism. No other species has expended its own resources, its own precious energy, to protect another, simply for the sake of the other species existence. No other species has ever planned and implemented an initiative to bring a species back from the brink of extinction. As certain as humanity’s ability to destroy has driven countless species to extinction, it is our unique and, frankly, unnatural desire to preserve and protect species and ecosystems for purely altruistic reasons that defines us.
Read the full post here.