Ricky Thompson

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Are there any examples in nature of an animal that knowingly seeks to conserve the environment in some way?

After seeing examples of chimps, elephants etc displaying impressive levels of altruism, sharing and co-operation I found myself wondering if there are any animals that purposefully care for their environment just as they purposefully care for each other?

When I say purposefully I mean that they can be observed to be choosing to act for the good of the environment rather than just 'being in harmony with nature'.

Any ideas anyone?

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    Jun 2 2012: I think I can help here. In China there are birds that build their nests on sheer cliffs and climbers try to retrieve them for birds nest soup. A speciality in China. Every once in a while one of the climbers fall into the ocean and is never seen again. The birds are ridding the Chinese of one idiot at a time for the good of mankind.

    Hopes this helps. All the best. Bob.
    • Jun 2 2012: I love it! Thanks for brightening my day. Best!
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    May 31 2012: Please explain the difference between, "being in harmony with nature", and "choosing to act for the good of the environment". Thank you!
  • Jun 3 2012: Beavers terraform landscape and waterways for their long term multi-generational benefit. This also benefits many other species who thrive in ecosystems built and maintained by beavers. They do this work with intent. Of course it could be argued that they are not conscious of the pros & cons their actions have on their local environment as a whole, yet neither do we. Just as they do, we terraform for our own benefit, but is that not natural behavior? Animals are not the only life forms who alter their environment in ways that benefit more than their own and/or intended.

    Plants: http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episode/smarty-plants-uncovering-the-secret-world-of-plant-behaviour.html

    Fungi: http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world.html
    More: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BelfLIJErek
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    Jun 2 2012: My dog picks up disguarded plastic drink bottles when out on our walks - I then put them in a bin.
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    Jun 6 2012: I think the key word in your question is "knowingly". When a salmon returns to the exact place of its birth to die is it knowingly replenishing the mineral levels of the downstream environment? I don't think so. Does an earthworm knowingly break-up the soil to promote plant growth? I don't think so. Every living creature is genetically programmed to perform its function in accordance with the master plan.
  • Jun 2 2012: I don't know of any but appreciate Bernard's comment. Animals do not create/invent products that pollute; their excrement might pollute, but it's not the animals' intent & creates a problem mostly when humans crowd them for commercial purposes. Homo sapiens can make choices & reflect, & that makes us culpable. As a species we seem to lack prudence, we behave viciously w/out cause, & we pollute our planet. Sorry to expound. My point: animals do not seem to have the cognitive ability to protect the earth, but they also lack the cognition to deliberately destroy it.
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    Jun 2 2012: Basically, human and animal have similar purpose in life, those are, survival and enjoyment. One of them by maintaining their environment to support their life. Human and animal did these, and are doing these.

    The different between human and animal is on the fact that animal has less awareness about widening their domination on their environment.

    But mostly (statistically, temporarily) human did and are doing even worst to their environment.

    Even when human is saying about choosing better acts, it's merely just another "in harmony" within conditional (there is no ultimate freedom here), compared to animal. http://www.ted.com/conversations/11078/do_we_have_choices_in_life.html?c=453697

    As mentioned before, the most significant differentiation between human and animal is that human has capability to widen their awareness on its own desire (more aware, more feelings, including more experience in the future). That's why human capable to control animal widely, because human's awareness (generally) did this (widening awareness).

    The point is, taking care for the environment is not an exclusive for human, it's basic for survival and enjoyment.

    Compared with animal, we have a strictly boundary called "wider awareness than animal". Generally what we can do, animal also has capability to do as what we do but with less care, less awareness than human.

    If somehow we did something with less care, less aware and (more) less again and again, then there will be chance, we may be called as "fall drawn into animal level".

    Less or more ...