Re: NANFA-- Endagered Species Report
Wed, 19 Nov 2003 16:07:56 +0000

I think about this issue a lot, and never come up with any answers.

Speaking from a strictly evolutionary perspective, what's the adaptive significance of being such a dominant species that we inevitably cause the destruction of ecosystems on which our food and water depend, and bring about profound environmental changes that make (or potentially make) our planet less inhabitable (e.g, climate change, air and water pollution)?

Speaking from a biblical perspective, why did God endow this planet with so much diversity, and then give humans the ability to dismantle His creation one species, one ecosystem at a time?

Although the environmental news is always bad, bad, bad...and the planet is seemingly overrun with humans (hey, I just added one myself recently)...and that it's impossible to live our lives and *not* consume natural resources...and that every car trip we make to a stream to admire fish and nature dumps more emissions into the atmosphere...I still have to take comfort in the fact -- heck, I *must* take comfort in this fact or else I'd go insane -- that the same superior intelligence that has made humankind such a dominant invasive species is also capable of seeing that what we are doing will have dire consequences. I don't see all of humankind changing into benign environmental stewards overnight, or even over the next several generations. But I must believe that we are slowly moving -- evolving, if you will -- in that direction.

The alternative is that humankind's evolutionary destiny *is* to dismantle ecosystems and bring about the next great wave of extinctions, including, ultimately, Homo sapiens. The planet will not die, however. New species and new ecosystems will emerge, and Earth will continue being -- as far as we know -- the only place in the universe that contains Life.

The best I can do is to teach my son to revere nature. And one way of doing that -- obligatory native fish reference coming up to make this post "on topic" -- is to show him a rosyside dace, or a rainbow darter, or a satinfin shiner, or any other plant or animals, and to value them and the ecosystems in which they live, as priceless masterworks of creation worth protecting.

Chris Scharpf
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