Many humans feel extremely passionate about species preservation, but do not have valid reasons to justify those feelings. Even ecologists cry for action when certain species become endangered or when regional populations of a species drop. Why is this? Is it rational?
Create a starting point for dialogue on the topic of the survival of species mentality by addressing the major arguments commonly offered by its proponents.
Examine and respond to the logic of the arguments offered for the survival of species mentality.
Prevent species extinction for biological diversity
Should the Darwinian process of Natural Selection cease apply to the natural world? Until a better human-driven solution is produced to replace it, Herbert Spencer’s point must apply: survival of the fittest.
If for any reason (even from homo-sapiens’ involvement!) a species is not diverse enough to sustain itself in its ecosystem, then extinction is the natural end. Not survival of the most artificially augmented: (the ultimate end of such logic is of course a dead heat between all living things, whereupon they all presumably mass-extinguish at once at the end of the entropic “All Survival” period caused by an unchanging global ecosystem.But that's not a preferable objective for homo-sapiens, a species which wants to survive, and requires dynamic ecosystems to do so.)
Prevent species extinction for ecological diversity
The key point of note, of course, is that this is not in any way a concern homo-sapiens need involve itself in. Ecosystems are either self-sustaining and adaptive, or they collapse entirely. In the unlikely but possible event that an ecosystem collapses entirely due to the extinction of one of its component species, another ecosystem will develop to replace it. Since literally the dawn of life, the natural course of mutative development (evolution) has continuously and repeatedly caused existing species in any given ecosystem to adapt to fulfill all of its necessary functions, or collapse entirely and be replaced by other new species. This continuous state of ecological flux is the inevitable result of life’s existence. It is also outside the ability and responsibility of the homo-sapiens species to control. The question is, what is to be gained by wilfully interfering with the natural development of an ecosystem knowing the result will either be to continuously increase manual effort to support the failing species or admit the absurdity of the act and allow the inevitable, natural, and gentle process of extinction to take its course? (If there is a rational answer to this question, please provide it to the author! A small reward is offered for that information.)
Assuming for a moment that there is a reason for homo-sapiens to devolve itself to the role of Artificial Preserver of Failed Species, what happens when the next species faces extinction? And the next? Generously assuming that such behaviour has value, then that value will be consistent for all species. The resulting scenario is one where all human effort is dedicated to artificially supporting, breeding, and protecting every failed species. In other words, one of Earth’s most successful species dedicates itself entirely to fighting the losing battle of trying to maintain the continuous development of all threads of genetic adaptation. In this obviously absurd eventuality, all branches of DNA must be kept in active reproduction through either natural process or artificial human effort. The end of this logic is that every living organism is forced to procreate “to preserve ecological diversity”. This is not necessary or useful for homo-sapiens to prosper: more useful is a range of self-sustaining and naturally adaptive ecosystems.
The argument for “ecological diversity” is actually one for “artificial, human-controlled ecological diversity.” It can’t be achieved in any practical way without making decisions on what genetic mutations should be forced to persist, and what should be left to nature. Given the literally infinite potential of genetics, such decisions can be nothing other than arbitrary. Homo-sapiens struggles enough dedicating entire artificial ecosystems to address the effects of these decisions in relation to the crops, animals, and microbes we actually consume. How could this then be done for all species on Earth, when homo-sapiens hasn’t even discovered all species on Earth?
You’ll note this is ridiculous enough without even mentioning the inevitable collateral effects of totalitarian human oversight of every living thing in every ecosystem on Earth.
Prevent species extinction because it's saddening
Future homo-sapiens should get to experience these creatures
If you want to consume panda cuddles, then by all means farm them: Just make sure you have an actual use for the species before you make your own species into a symbiote that receives hugs in exchange for providing food, safety, environment, breeding programmes, medical care, and a steady stream of handsy tourists.
The dark side of preserving species “so future humans can experience them” is plague.
The bright side? A farm of artificially inseminated bears that can only eat one species of fibrous vegetation that you also have to farm due to its bad luck in heading down an evolutionary cul de sac thousands of years prior. That’s a hell of a way to expend resources that could be put toward the forced extinction of other deadly diseases. But hey, they’re great huggers.
When pre-extinction occurs in a species (e.g. a species is declared “Endangered”) the causative effects should be identified, relevant ecological impacts examined empirically, and a rational decision made based on the tangible benefit to the homo-sapiens species as whether there is greater value in preserving the species in order to somehow consume its member organisms, or to observe the naturally ceasing existence of the failing species.
“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” – Carl Sagan