ISSUE-041

There is little justification for society to make extraordinary efforts — especially at a great cost in money and jobs — to save endangered animal or plant species.


Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.


Human beings are increasingly capable of modifying the environment surrounding us. At the same time, a rising number of species are under the threat of extinction. Hence, whether society should make efforts to save endangered plant and animal species becomes a question. Some people believe that people should try to protect and save every endangered species on this planet, while others argue that it is an unwise piece of policy recommendation. From my point view, while the argument put forward by those who object saving endangered species at the cost of the society has some valid points, overall we should indeed make efforts to save them due to at least two practical reasons.


To start, those who disagree with my position may claim that not the pending extinction of all species is the result of human activities. Therefore, humankind carries no moral obligation to save them. Throughout the history of our planet, they argue, life has risen and fallen a number of times. For example, multiple mass extinction events exist in Earth history and they have wiped out a large percentage of the living things. Such events predated the modern humans and apparently the extinction of many species is a pure consequence of Nature. As a result, if the danger of becoming extinct today for a species is not because of human activities, we should not disturb the cycle of Nature and instead should just let such species go extinct, especially given the fact that saving them would inflict a financial and labor cost to our society.


While the argument above seems reasonable at the first glimpse, in reality there are a major flaw in its assumption. It assumes that we can tell confidently whether humans are responsible for the species becoming endangered. In some cases, this is easy to determine. For example, poaching by human beings is the fundamental factor in driving rhinos into the verge of extinction. And yet, in other cases the reasons may be murky and there could be multiple reasons involved, while human factors are often hard to identify. For instance, human beings have profoundly changed the surface environment of the Earth, by converting forest into cities and turning lands into urban metropolis. In this process, the climate and the habitat of wildlife have been affected, which in turn could lead to the potential demise of a species. For example, illegal hunting of tigers is undeniably one reason for tigers’ endangered status; at the same time, human beings are indirectly responsible because our actions have adversely affected the health of rainforest that tigers call home. By extension, even if some species are endangered by seemingly natural reasons, it is certainly possible that human beings are an indirect factor. Hence, there is still a moral obligation to save them.


Furthermore, even if human beings have truly no responsibility whatsoever in the possible extinction of a species, does it mean that we should do nothing and let the extinction happen? I doubt so, because from a practical point of view a plant or animal species may carry values to our society. Sometimes such values are direct, such as some substances found in herbal plants have demonstrated abilities to fight certain cancers. In other cases, such values can be indirect and are not easily seen. For instance, certain bird species may seem to have little direct value to human society, and yet the fact that they prey on locust mean they could provide essential ecological service to our society. The ongoing locust crisis in East Africa and the Near East poses a great threat to the stability of societies in those regions. In this case, those bird species can prove extremely valuable to human beings. Hence, given the possible service those species can provide, we should save endangered species from extinction.


To sum up, practically speaking because we cannot know for sure if a species’ extinction is the result of human actions and any species may provide valuable service to human society, we should save every endangered animal and plant species.

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