If Charles Darwin wasn’t bothered by extinction, why are conservationists? Do they really think they know better?

“Thus as it seems to me, the manner in which single species and whole groups of species become extinct accords well with the theory of natural selection. We need not marvel at extinction; if we must marvel, let it be at our own presumption in imagining for a moment that we understand the many complex contingencies on which the existence of each species depends.” – Charles Darwin



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    Charles Darwin wasn’t concerned with extinction because the extinction that he observed was more or less “natural” i.e. not the direct effect of human activities. What concerns conservationists, as you say, is that we are pushing species to extinction at a rate unpresedented in recorded history. And more to the point the real question that should be troubling us is whether or not we will survive on a planet with such degraded biodiversity. Will an unknown disease wipe out all our stable mono-crops? Will climate change distroy our croplands? It is our own extinction that hangs in the balance. There have been mass extinctions in the past and life has always found a way to carry on, but the question is whether we as a species will carry on. The best way to perserve our species and the natural resources that sustain us is by perserving the biodiversity of our planet. I hope this clarifies things for you, but if you want more detailed analysis I suggest the book linked below. You might be able to find it in your local library.

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      I see. So it’s not because they’re actually worried about ‘killing the planet”. They’re actually worried about us; i.e. it’s slightly pathetic self-pity dressed up as natural history.

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    I think there is a huge difference between extinction in the evolutionary sense and extinction in the preventable, possibly “man-made” sense. Darwin was seemingly not concerned with extinction because, back when he was studying, the extinctions about which he was talking were, in a way, meant to happen because of natural selection. However, in modern times, extinctions are not really evolution-related so much as caused by human influence such as hunting, climate change, etc. When these species disappear suddenly because of outside influence as opposed to gradually disappearing, ecosystems and food chains are disrupted. These sudden changes run the risk of having disastrous effects on numerous species. 

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