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Societies Should Save Endangered Species Only When The Potential Extinction Is Caused By Human Activities. - With A Free Essay Review

Prompt: “Societies should save endangered species only when the potential extinction is caused by human activities. - Write a response in which you discuss your views on the policy and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider the possible consequences of implementing the policy and explain how these consequences shape your position.”

Societies should save all endangered species we are aware of, whether it is human-caused or not. The reasons of doing so are threefold. First, human activities have already influenced all aspects of the environment so that all species are more or less affected. Second, species are highly interconnected which means they depend on each other to survive. In order to save certain kinds of them, we have to save species indiscriminately to preserve the diversity of nature. Finally, the extinction of any species is an irreversible genetic loss, whose value is unpredictable and unknown to us now. We have to save those endangered species now to use their potential value in the future.

It may be argued that we are only responsible for those extinctions which are apparently caused by human activities. That argument is substantially wrong because human activities have such a dramatic impact on the global environment to such a degree that all species living in it are affected. The emission of carbon dioxide has resulted in global warming, influencing nearly all species by changing the climate. The exploitation of natural resources, deforestation, building residential points for booming population have occupied and destructed the natural habitat. The pollution from both industrial and residential source contaminates the environment and brings about lethal chemicals. Even some measures in an attempt to protect the environment like planting certain kind of trees or introducing certain animals can also pose a threat to existing species through predation or competition. The human activities have influenced directly and in most cases indirectly but significantly to almost every living creature on this planet by changing their living conditions. In other words, we are responsible for most extinction if not all.

Secondly, in nature, all kinds of species, animals, plants, insects, and fungi have complex interconnected relations with each other. Some animals may feed on plants or other animals, while other creatures may cooperate with and benefit mutually from each other. Some of these relations remain unknown to us, which means we should not risk ignoring any extinction of species because they have unpredictable impacts on the whole ecosystem or even our survival. Furthermore, it is already proved that when the ecosystem is diverse and replete with various species, it has a stronger resilient capability against disasters or pollutions. Therefore, we need to save all the endangered species to preserve this diversity which is also vital for our survival on earth.

Finally, from a utilitarian perspective, all species, desirable or not, are of great genetic value to human beings. Their distinct genes and the resulting functionalities have great potential value with wide application in medicine, bioengineering and other technologies like green energy or special material. There are numerous examples that other creatures can be amazingly helpful to us that even the most undesirable creatures like mosquito and fly have some usage for us. When a species perishes, its gene is gone forever. All species are the beautiful work of the nature that we human being may never be capable to reproduce.


Essay Review

Your first argument skirts the issue it ostensibly tackles (whether "we are only responsible for those extinctions which are apparently caused by human activities") by claiming that human activities have caused the endangerment of all threatened species. It's fine to make that claim, and you do a good job of explaining your position, but it really ought to be advanced not to refute the argument you claim to be refuting (which you say is "substantially wrong") but obviously to explain why that argument is irrelevant. If you are saying we should save all endangered species because we’ve had a hand in every potential extinction, then surely you’re saying the question is moot.

Your second argument is well-constructed, if a little vague on one of the claims most relevant here to completing the assigned task; namely, the claim that our very survival is at stake. If the instructions ask you to consider the possible consequences and explain how that consideration shapes your position, then you ought to do that in a way that is obvious and fairly elaborate. The best way to make something obvious is to make it explicit: "If we follow the recommendation, and do not save all threatened species, then there are many possible consequences. For example, etc." "Consideration of these consequences dictates etc."

Generally, but in particular when the consequence is extraordinary (e.g., a threat to our survival), you should also clearly explain why you think that consequence really is a consequence. If you want to say that biodiversity as such is vital for our survival, then perhaps not much justification is needed for such a general claim. If you want to say that the extinction of a single species, seriously threatens biodiversity, and so seriously threatens our survival, then a whole lot of justification would be needed (and it would be a lot easier to simply weaken the claim a little). You come close to making the latter extraordinary claim. Clearly we, and generally biodiversity, can withstand, and have withstood, the loss of many distinct species. Your more compelling argument, it seems to me, is that we cannot know how dire the consequences the loss of any individual species might be.*

Your penultimate argument makes another fairly strong argument in favor of our protecting all endangered species. Your reference to the possible value of the much maligned mosquito, however, naturally invites an obvious objection that you don't meet. Some species, especially those that are vectors of deadly disease, constitute an obvious threat to humans. Would you argue that we have more to fear from the eradication of the mosquito than from its continued survival?

Best, EJ.


*I see that below Sereine makes essentially the same point as that made in this paragraph, and with greater economy. Thanks, S.
Submitted by: kentblue


This was a very clearly organized essay. Your transition between your second and third arguments could be smoother and thereby strengthen both arguments.

At the end of your second argument, you say "this diversity which is also vital for our survival on earth" (Note: you need a comma after diversity). This argument would be stronger if you explained how diversity is necessary to humans (when dodo birds became extinct, there were no immediate harmful repercussions to humans).

Your third argument is the answer. It says that genetic diversity is a benefit in itself and that species diversity is therefore importnat to humans. This argument could be strengthened with some further examples.

Your first argument is very good. You could make it stronger by clearly and explicitly stating that the prompt contains an invalid assumption (i.e., that we are able to determine which species are going extinct due to human activities and which are going extinct due to other causes).
August,06 2012

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