TED Conversations

Asha de Vos

Marine Biologist, The University of California Santa Cruz


This conversation is closed.

Everything on this earth is so closely intertwined that when we drive a species to extinction, we are spelling our own demise.

As a biologist I study webs of things and this is something I strongly believe in. We think that just because something is not an immediate part of our day to day life, its destruction will have no impact on us as humans - but I don't think thats correct. I am keen to have lots of input on this idea and examples and thoughts :)


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Apr 18 2012: Things come and they go. That is the way of nature. As a biologist and a James Randi fan, I'm surprised that you even asked this question. Species cease all the time. New species take their place. For example, i truly think that if alligators became extict tomorrow, we would never even notice. They serve no useful purpose and just exist basically to exist. Same thoughts on dogs. If all dogs vanished today, what impact would that make on the the world's ecological framework? I don't think it would matter. Include housecats also. They are pampered, hand fed and do nothing. There is no species that is required for our planet. Life will go on without them. We, as humans, just have a sentimental value placed on them. To us, they are precious and irreplaceable. But they are just milestones in earth's history. They come and they go.
    • Apr 18 2012: I agree with a lot of what you've said.
      Species do cease, all the time, but it took thousands of years for them to 'get specialised', to evolve to that point that they are distinct, yet part of a stable eco-structure.
      Nonetheless, they DO dissappear, every day. mostly thanks to us humans.

      As for their 'usefulness', who are we to decisively state what their function is?
      Dogs and cats have been selectively bred to serve US!
      And we can't say with ANY confidence at all, what our own 'function' is, that's still up to the philosophers to decide.

      I think the point that Asha is making is that : As a species, we're changing everything faster than we've EVER realised, and there isn't anything to 'fill the gap' left in the biosphere of the 'natural' world, once a species has been removed.

      (By the way, if dogs were to suddenly disappear, what would we do with all the food by-products, chemical additives and petro-chemical by-products we put into dog food? What would we do with all the corn we use as fillers? (Its not fit for human consumption.) I would think that these industries have, cumulatively, an immense impact upon the earth.)
    • thumb
      Apr 19 2012: It is hard to believe you're a biologist. If you were you knew better.
      What have cats and dogs have to do with the subject?
      "If alligators are extinct you wouldn't notice", what has this remark to say about the natural environment they live in?
    • W T 100+

      • 0
      Apr 19 2012: I am not a biologist, but it seems to me that perhaps there are things about nature we fully don't undestand...food chains, and effects of species disappearing, hmm. I'm just not too sure I am convinced by your words.
    • thumb
      May 1 2012: Hi Casey, your comment only shows how little you understand about the interdependency of different organisms in this planet.

      "what if all plants, disappear tomorrow"? you almost seem to imply when you say that there are no species required on this planet. well, i think we all know what would happen in such case.

      the fact that humans are indeed not a required species does nothing to undermine the inter-dependencies that do exist

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.