Is Extinction a Course of Nature? Term Paper

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¶ … Biology of Species Extinction -- Argument

When it comes to the issue of the extinction of animal species, there are two main schools of thought. According to the first, the extinction of species is simply the naturally course of evolution and not a tragedy that human beings should devote time, energy, and effort to preventing. According to the second school of thought, there is an inherent value to every species and even if extinction is a natural phenomenon, the fact that the rate of species extinction has increased as a result of human activities is sufficient justification for trying to preserve species facing extinction and, at least, to try to minimize the effect of human activities on the premature or accelerated extinction of animal species. While the second position is admirable in some respects and does reflect a certain sensitivity toward nature, it is the much weaker argument.

The extinction of animal species is strictly a function of their ability to adapt to changes in their environment. It is a process that has bee ongoing throughout the natural world for billions of years, ever since the first microbes evolved into different microbes and simple organisms that were better able to thrive in their environment. The evolutionary process predates human activity by such a long period of time that the entire period of human existence on earth amounts to the equivalent of seconds if the history of the planet were represented by a 24-hour clock. On that clock, human beings first appeared only a few seconds before midnight.

The principal reason that there is such ecological diversity in the first place is that biological species have continually evolved by changing their form and functions as necessitated by their external environment. In that respect, the addition of human beings in general and of human activities in particular to the environment is no more or less part of the external environment of other species than all of the environmental changes that have driven evolution (and extinctions) since the first form of life emerged on earth. Just as changes in the populations of predatory and prey species directly influence the success of one another's species, so does the addition of human beings to the equation. In that sense, human activity -- even if it has contributed to or accelerated the "natural" extinction rate of other animal species -- is nothing more or less than another element of the natural world to which other species must adapt if they are to succeed.

To put human activity and its possible influence on animal extinction rates into perspective, just consider that a meteorite that struck the earth near modern-day Siberia is now known to have been the cause of the largest number of simultaneous extinctions likely to have ever occurred on earth from a single cause. It wiped out all of the dinosaurs and probably is the reason that smaller mammals managed to evolve into human beings… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Is Extinction a Course of Nature?.  (2011, November 17).  Retrieved December 13, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/extinction-course-nature/4347579

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"Is Extinction a Course of Nature?."  Essaytown.com.  November 17, 2011.  Accessed December 13, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/extinction-course-nature/4347579.