Exploratory Essay on Species Extinction and Conservation
Ecologists often say that every time any species disappears, it disappears for good, without any possibility for it to come back. It is said that every time this happens the diversity of organic life decreases and suffers and, because we cause it, we should do everything to protect the species that can potentially disappear.
It is all very good, but I cannot understand one thing: why is it necessarily our fault? Earth has existed for billions of years before the appearance of humankind, and millions of species came, lived and became extinct over that period of time without any participation on the side of men – simply because it is the way evolution is supposed to work. Survival of the fittest presupposes that those who are less fit should make room for those who are fitter; and, if they are really unfit for the new situation, go entirely.
If we look at the list of extinct animals, we will see that most of them have been already on the way to extinction when men first encountered them: Steller’s Sea Cow and dodo, for example, were extremely unaccomodated for the slightest changes in their environment and have survived so long only by a lucky accident. And I don’t see a reason not to try and exterminate certain species, e.g., of parasites, on purpose.
If the survival of the fittest means that only the most adapted organisms remain to live, don’t the ecologists try to fight against the main principle of evolution itself, guarding the unadapted organisms from what may be dangerous for them? I don’t mean to say it is necessarily wrong; I only say that it is at least illogical.