Can mass extinction be prevented?What are your feelings regarding mass extinction?  Do you think that it is inevitable that life on earth will end with the coming of the 6th mass extinction or do...

Can mass extinction be prevented?

What are your feelings regarding mass extinction?  Do you think that it is inevitable that life on earth will end with the coming of the 6th mass extinction or do you feel that the work of people in the conservation community can save the earth?

Expert Answers
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of factors contributing to the current cycle of extinctions, including population encroachment, habitat destruction, rising global temperatures and climate change/climate shift, Ocean CO2 saturation, overhunting/overfishing and a growing world human population.  I don't see these trends as reversible at this point, or at least humans have a very poor track record when it comes to large scale changes in environmental behavior.

Where this is of fundamental concern to us as humans is in the ecosystems these species are a part of.  They are massive, complex, and function in ways that we do not fully understand.  Take honeybees for example, which have been facing a colony collapse disorder for the past several years.  They pollinate $4 billion worth of agriculture in the US alone each year.  Removing that one part of the food chain has profound effects on how easy it is for us to live here, and the other parts of the food chain that are now being disrupted through extinctions will undoubtedly affect us in ways we cannot yet foresee.

Fortunately, we have a cerebral cortex, and can think and reason and invent technologies to help us adjust to this.  Other species, however, do not.

trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is estimated that 99% of everything that ever lived on Earth has become extinct. Therefore, we must accept that extinction is part of the evolutionary process on Earth. Those best adapted survive and reproduce, and others perish. It is kind of a beautiful thing to think of the Earth as a constantly changing place. However, if it is a species that people value or love, it becomes a painful thought that it may perish. We can't control everything, however, we can be mindful that Earth is a finite size with limited resources and we should try our best to preserve our planet.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems to me that when we create false habitats to "save" a species from extinction, we are also creating a handicap for this species to survive on its own.  There is no way that humans can create a 100% accurate habitat that will take into consideration all the elements of the natural conditions of earth for the species in question.  Inevitably, something will be sources, predators, survival skills, etc.  Once the "saved" animals have been re-introduced to the wild, it will again only be a matter of time before they are back in the same boat.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As I understand it, we are already in the middle of a 6th mass extinction as habitat and such gets destroyed.  However, I do not see where the extinction of life on Earth is at all likely.

So far as we can tell right now, we do not really need all of the species that now exist.  While we may be better off with those species (or maybe not), we do not seem to need them in order for life to continue.

Therefore, I don't really see a danger of the extinction of all life, even though we are causing mass extinctions.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I personally think that we are too late now to prevent a large number of extinctions. We should have tried to act long, long ago, and now we are up the creek without a paddle. Unfortunately, the price is going to be paid by a large number of animals who are going to be made extinct thanks to our stupidity. Happy days.

trophyhunter1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is also ex-situ and in-situ conservation biology projects that are ongoing trying to preserve various organisms. There are seed banks and storage of frozen embryos. While all of these efforts are valiant, the planet will regulate itself and those that survive, are best adapted.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would agree with amy-lepore, we can not recreate a habitat that is perfect for a species that is in danger of going extinct, it seems like when we try to recreate the habitat we are able to see an increase in numbers for a short period of time, but not long term.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since you asked for my feelings, I'll tell you I feel like mass extinction is unlikely short of planet disintegration.  That doesn't mean people haven't tried or won't keep trying, but It seems to me any mass destruction will not be man-made. 

frizzyperm | Student

Extinction of all life on earth by Humankind is almost impossible. But destruction of the current ecosystem... oh, we can do that easy.

As far as i can see, our only hope is in technology. Globally and locally speaking, we are clearly not willing to agree on a 'green and clean' reduction of our messy lifestyles. So our only hope is in cheap, clean technology.

Let's hope we can use our brains to develop cleaner varieties of mass consumption, because otherwise, we're f... airly lost.  

frizzyperm | Student

Personally, I'm building this big boat... but it's really really big and funding is an issue, I need another ten trillion dollars to get this thing afloat. 

No, but seriously, post 10 is right, extinction is the norm. And while we struggle with our conflicting wishes for social expansion and environmental preservation, then species are at risk. But there IS an Ark2 project to preserve those species which we can't protect right now. The DNA of endangered species is being cryogenically stored for the future. It is not the perfect solution, but there is always hope.



malia43 | Student

I have been reading the research done by paleotologist, David Jablonski.  He seems to say that survival of speices is not dependent upon the population of a species, but rather whether that particular species is geographically wide spread throughout the world. That makes me wonder if the work of conservationalists to save a particular species that lives in a particular geographical area will truly save that species.

Any thoughts?

epollock | Student

The sun will eventually decay and die and life on Earth will end, but for now, I think it can be prevented if it is disease or nuclear war, or just about any war. But it can't be prevented if it is in the form of an alien invasion or some type of catastrophic event like a comet, asteroid, or any other large object to collide with earth.

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