Onur Çörtük

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Should we really care about the extinction of endangered species?

Some examples of extinction may be necessary for evolution and we could be stopping the process by intervening it. What do you think about it?

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    Nov 22 2011: Each species has made adapations to survive. Each species has different genes that characterize it. Each species does something that affects our ecosystem. Taking one of those species out (the tiger or the lion for example) could change the entire food chain and ecosystem in that particular area.

    Bats eat thousands of bugs. Bats are becoming extinct. If we kill the bats, than who will eat the bugs? If no one is there to eat the bugs, than farmers create new pestisides to kill these bugs that can be hazardous to the enviornment or even to us.

    We need to care about the remaining animal species because each one provides us with something, whether it be knowledge, or it be less bugs, we need each animal to mantain the fragile balance of our world.
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      Nov 22 2011: For example you are saying if tigers extinct it effects the whole ecosystem but may be it needs to change. How do we know what really nature wants to? Maybe nature needs the extinction of tigers, maybe extinction of bats. Is that the human kind who is responsible for deciding such things. In addition i am not a supporter of extinction but i am curious about these questions and want to learn what people think about it.
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        Nov 22 2011: If we are responsible for killing off these animals, then we are deciding whether to save or kill these animals. Each animals, even parasites, can help us in some way. In that regard, however, some animals are too dangerous to keep alive and for the well being of our species we may need to kill them. (A mosquito with malaria or a parasite that can kill humans)

        This goes back to the qusetion, why do we get to decide who is to live and who is to die. Whether we are supposed to or not, we have enough power to choose whether species should live or not, and since we have this power then we have one of the two options. Keep them or kill them. My own belief is described in my earlier post, but it is that we should keep every animal unless it proves a danger to the human race. (Animals that can spread a pandemic of disease)
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          Nov 22 2011: Then you think if an animal is harmless for human race save it. I understand what you mean, although we disagree in some points. I think we have to let some species extinct if the reason is natural. Whereas we have to protect some endangered species which we caused the reduction in their population. Thank you anyway.
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    Nov 21 2011: I'm intrigued as to what we would be arbitrary line drawn to see which species qualify to be saved and which one's are not?

    Would it be the biological complexity of the organism and their possibilities of experiencing pleasure and suffering? Would the species that can suffering a greater range of joy and suffering be protected. In other words would we save apes but not chickens? Cows but not rats? Butterflies but not ants?

    I think every species and their ecological niche are just as important as any human establishment and the fact that humans are aware and at the same time destroying the various ecosystems on the planet I think we are indeed responsible for the protection of other animals.

    Let me ask this: If there was a species that was much more powerful, much more intelligent than humans were and they realized that our population was decreasing to the point of extinction and they could have done something to preserve our lives, wouldn't we hope that they would be mindful enough to want to help us?
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      Nov 22 2011: First thank you for your answer to my question. You gave me another perspective. But let me ask you this question again. If we are allowing a species that can threat the future of humanity not by themselves maybe by effecting the other kind of species. You are saying there is no criteria to choose which species we can protect but are there anybody who thinks about evolution. For example if dinosaurs had not extinct human have not been able to evolve like this. In addition i am not a supporter of extinction but i am curious about these questions and want to learn what people think about it.
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    Nov 21 2011: I believe that we should be conscientious about the choices we make, their effect on the environment, and how those effects in turn impact extinction rates. If we are aware of how we influence the world around us, we are better able to promote a positive impact on our environment rather than a harmful one.

    That being said, I do not think that we should intervene in natural selection. By doing so, we inhibit evolution and change. I think a good question to pose here is: Why are we so intent on "saving" so many species? Why do we so adamantly fight against the changes we are bringing about on our earth? My personal answer to this question is that we are selfish beings; we have survived very well on this planet as it has been, and suddenly we are having a massive impact on the environment that is changing it in a relatively drastic manner. I believe environmentalism is somewhat pointless because no matter what we do--short of total nuclear destruction--the earth will still be here. It will adapt and evolve to recover from whatever impact we have. Therefore, the only real reason we are so insistent upon "saving" the environment is to save ourselves.

    To tie these two ideas together: we should have an awareness of what we do and how that impacts the environment, but at the same time, we should also be aware of the fact that "saving" the environment and endangered species are mostly selfish and useless causes. The earth is going to change no matter how much we try to prevent it from changing. Instead of trying to prevent that change, it might be a better use of our time to learn to adapt--as other species have been adapting for millions of years--so that we can survive those changes.
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      Nov 22 2011: Thank you for your answer. As far as i understand you mean that we have evolved in this biodiversity ecological balance and in order to survive we have to protect this. If you mean this; this really helps my questionmarks.
  • Nov 21 2011: Species come and species go. If it is a human-caused extinction, perhaps we should take action. Over time species have come and gone, so perhaps we should just focus on making life a positive experience for the existing species and take a laissez-faire attitude towards extinction of specific species. We have limited resources. Perhaps elevating the well-being and joy level of existing lives of any species is more worthy of our energies, than in being power-and-control freaks and trying to determine which species should live. What is our criteria for choosing which species ought to continue? Maybe it is arrogant to think we know which species deserves to survive. I think our resources are best spent on making life wonderful for existing life forms.
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      Nov 22 2011: Rhona, "elevating the well-being and joy level of existing lives", if we do this we are preserving endangered species. We don't need to decide who live or not, if we do not destroy their livingspace they all live.
      • Nov 23 2011: Frans, Cutting down one tree could be destroying the living space of one bird and other cute little living beings that live on or in that tree. So, Frans, are you against cutting down any trees at all?
        Every living space has multiple alternative uses. I am not sure who should decide which species should prevail in any particular living space.
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          Nov 23 2011: No Rhona, it isn't about a tree or two.
          A tiger or other predators needs a vast territory to stay alive.
          Bird migration from North to South is possible as long as they can forage on their way in large numbers.
          Also to find a mate that isn't a relative you need large areas.

          We live in small country and nature is chopped up by many roads that are barriers for animals. To keep the populations healthy we build fly-under and fly-over’s especially for animals so they can cross roads.
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        Nov 23 2011: Frans, some species are getting extinct because of inbreeding depression. What do you think about them? Should we stop this?
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          Nov 23 2011: If you talk about wild animals, Onur it is true that there is a minimum for any population to stay healthy.
          If within a closed area the population sinks below a certain number the population die out.
          To prevent this we must keep their living space as large as possible. See my answer on Rhona.
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        Nov 24 2011: Frans i am replying your last comment. I know we can prevent. I mean should we or must we prevent.
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          Nov 25 2011: Onur, what would your grandchildren say or those of your family members over a hundred years if they saw in 3D the beauty of our forests, the butterflies, the wonderful color patterns of the chameleons that once lived on the earth?

          And more important than that, if we try to preserve what is left to us we are by doing so preserving the ground for our own existence.

          Yes, we should and we could if we are willing.
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    Nov 21 2011: As far as I know, if you want a very egocentric point of view, each species is potentially able to provide some cure to some disease.

    Less egocentric, why not say that each species has some right to live? (some would say provided they don't endanger mankind, which is an argument I can listen too)
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      Nov 22 2011: I agree with you. We can look two different window to the point. First we must let species, which nature doesn't need evolutionary process, extinct and second one is our consciencious side. So you think there is no criteria, don't you?
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        Nov 22 2011: Well I would say I need to think about it. I feel we should care, but the answer need to be reasonably developed.
  • Nov 25 2011: Frans, I'm not sure what you mean by "we live in a small country." What is a "small country?" Birds and other animals generally ignore the lines on maps that humans draw. We live on Earth, my current favorite planet. I live in an area where I used to observe huge flocks of birds hanging out on their way south. Over the years the area has become increasingly built up to house and nurture human beings. So, in this area.....it is birds or people. I miss the sight of those birds. So what? Again.....who decides. Do you love birds and butterflies more than you love people? How do you ascertain which point of view is "correct?" Everyone I know thinks that what they believe is correct.
  • Nov 22 2011: I don't think it is caring about those already gone that matters. However, move forward a millenium or two and consider what organisms and animals we will part with in not caring... I don't think our decendants deserve such a world. The proverbial question would be.. should we really care about preserving current life forms for the future human race? Keeping in mind, they are not in fact inheriting the world from us, we are in fact borrowing from them... for they (the future) will always own what we have lost to time.
  • Nov 22 2011: To consider ourselves powerful enough to halt/slow down a process like evolution would be very erroneously. Our intervention by protecting some species is merely what a Homo-sapien - as a species is meant or programmed to do. It is just like a Tiger is programed to hunt. Just like the Tiger fails or succeeds in its action to hunt, we as Homo Sapiens will succeed or fail in our doing. Our doing is our programming..... so it would be unnecessary to have a judgmental position over it.
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    Nov 21 2011: We should upload genomes.
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      Nov 21 2011: Why?
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        Nov 22 2011: Just in case, it seems quite handy to have a library of different species' genomes. Just in case we some day want some of them back. Or wish to flood a planet and make a giant blue whale aquarium...
        I don't know...
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          Nov 22 2011: Then how can we reproduce that species without ancestors of them? Do you really believe it is possible? If so, how?
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        Nov 22 2011: I don't know how to do this. If I did, well, I'd write about it, get a nobel prize and eventually enable the technology to make it happen.
        But it will happen, as our biological knowledge deepens. The process of procreation has nothing supernatural about it, and it only involves physical materials in our physical reality. So no law of physics forbids progress to be made in that direction.

        So I'm not panic-stricken about a few species disapearing now and then. Especially when you know about the massive extinctions in the past. If anything, humans will probably turn out to save more species than to have ever destroyed, if we blow up the next deadly asteroid for example...
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          Nov 23 2011: Yours is an amazing idea. If it is achieved it'd be a milestone for biologist. Thank you and i really appriciate your creativity.
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      Nov 22 2011: Are you joking?
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        Nov 22 2011: I'm not joking. What's funny about this?
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          Nov 22 2011: I actually have to say that you make a few good points however impossible they sound. If we had the ability to recreate animals we could learn about them, ensure the survival of animals and not spend so much money doing it.
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          Nov 23 2011: Seeds are stored and preserved for the future.
          Look at this:

          With most animals it's a different story.
          If you destroy their living space (natural habitat) they are extinct already even though you would find them in every zoo.

          To think that you could bring them back looks to me like a joke.
          Even if we bring back a few mammoths we can look at them and make pictures but they stay extinct as they are now.
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        Nov 23 2011: What happened to homo sapiens then? Shouldn't we be hunting large animals in small tribes?
        So much for our natural habitat.

        True we've changed the world to make it human-friendly, and this has undoubtedly caused damage to many other species.

        But about the mammoth, blame our ancestors living in harmony with nature for wiping them out.
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          Nov 23 2011: The difference with humans and other species is that we shape our environment to meet our wants and the rest has to adapt to any change that occurs in the environment.
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        Nov 23 2011: I've already argued about this on TED, I thought it was with you...

        To say that other species don't shape their environments to meet their needs is false. Most of them do, to some extent. Some of them have shaped the world as it is now, and unless we change the composition of the athmosphere completely, our impact is no match to what some species have done to this planet.

        Also, the living organism is itself part of the environment. Were you thinking mountains and waterfalls? This is a misconception. Sure, animals adapt to the environment, but if they do it means that the environment is shaping them. And that's not just climate changes.
        What about nesting animals? What about parasites that hijack ant brains?

        Examples are as numerous as the bioshpere is wide.
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        Nov 23 2011: The only difference I see between humans and other animals is creativity. Creative research of intention that has been selected by culture to favour its passing on generations through quick understanding of its content. Creativity is part of our hardware on which culture is the software.
        Other smart animals may have some cultural knowledge that is passed down generations or passed into other tribes (such as baboons learning how to cross rivers).
        But the difference is creativity. Failure to cross the river would only seem like suicide to witnessing baboons. To a human it would look like an atempt. Or at least we would conjecture about it, using our unique creativity.

        You could say that what's exclusive to humans is that no place in the world is sustainable for us without culture, without knowledge about survival, about plants, about clothing, fishing, tools, weapons... This is the difference ; contrary to any animal the Earth is deadly to us if we solely rely on our inborn faculties.
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          Nov 23 2011: You can't compare animals with humans on the point of interfering with the environment.
          Of course have many animals adaptations of all kinds but they are small and develop over longue periods.

          Humans not only interfere but also migrate over the planet because he's made himself independent from any climate. As things are burned or eroded he moves on. That was for 5.000 years now it's much worse.

          You may call it creative Gerald, but the result is the same.
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        Nov 23 2011: The solution to all this is in creativity, though. So the result is not the same.
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      Nov 23 2011: Hi Gerald!

      I agree with you,
      I would love to be able to say that we should not destroy our environment and the habitats of other species, but I think the results of that approach (that I support) will be limited.
      And even if we achieved that (in the face of population increase and increase in consumption of all kinds) many species will disappear anyway as they do every day today.
      Storing the genome of all species (currently being done) is a practical approach whose value is incalculable as it represent billions of years of evolution (genetic solutions).
      It will be for future generations to define how to use that.

      I liked your idea of the planet for the whales 



      PS naked mole rats are interesting but not very pretty
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        Nov 23 2011: Mole rats wouldn't win the ugliest animal contest. But they could host it.
      • Nov 23 2011: Maybe it's time to think about reducing our "consumption of all kinds"?
        Isn't clear that we share the environment with everything that lives and flies and crawls and grow ?
        You don't need to be a romantic nature/animal lover, be simply pragmatic !
        Even a small portion of reason is enough to understand that we won't survive with this arrogant attitude.
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          Nov 23 2011: Hi Natahsa!

          Yes, we should think about reducing our consumption, but do you honestly think that is going to happen any time soon (if ever)?
          Yes for sure we do share the environment, but being honest again, we are not very respectful to other beings… (I don’t think we ever where respectful in the past either)

          I’m an animal lover, a diversity and nature lover, that’s why I support the storage of the genetic information of animals.
          Extinction is happening every week for many species, do you prefer to work on changing world wide conscience about consumption, etc, or do something to preserve the diversity now?
          Maybe we need the two types of people, I feel more affinity with the second one.

          Natasha, even if I understand and share part of your last argument about arrogance, I don’t know if it is correct.
          I think we have done pretty good as a species so far (colonized most of the environments, grew in numbers, extended our life, secured and multiplied our food sources, etc).
          Maybe that will all collapse tomorrow, but I’m optimistic that science and technology will help us move forward.


      • Nov 25 2011: Hi, Julian!
        Thank you for the response, I appreciate your understanding of the necessity for change, but honestly, I don't share your optimistic view that we have a lot of time for this.( if any!) "any time soon (if ever)" sounds like Armageddon !
        Yes, I " prefer to work on changing world wide conscience about consumption" and world wide consciousness in general. I don't have any grandiose plans and I don't believe in them. I can only share my own experience, how to make it work here and now :Try to shift your focus from "me" to "us", progressing on this way you will extend "us' to "everything that IS " and changes will come naturally and inevitably into your life and as an implication to the life of people you can influence. The revelation is simple, we don't need all this stuff, production of which kills our environment and us as a part of it.
        Julian, by arrogance I meant precisely that " we colonized most of the environments, grew in numbers, extended our life, secured and multiplied our food sources, etc)."
        This is the "conqueror "mentality we humans suffer, it's time to understand that our victory , if it happens, will be our grave stone. I don't campaign against genetic storage, at least, it's a sign of awakening, but i don't view it as a solution, not even close to it.
        Please, watch this video http://www.ted.com/talks/louie_schwartzberg_nature_beauty_gratitude.html
        I urge you to agree that beauty of the world must be preserved, it can't be recreated, it is simply not possible.

        Sorry, Julian, there is no "reply" button on your comment, but I hope you'll find my response.