I’ve noted before that scientists – as a group – are often some of the most conservative (with a small ‘c’) people in society. They hate change. Now I am not good with change either, but I mostly restrict that to my own life. On a grander scale, I think change can be creative, ‘scientific’ and, most importantly, perhaps, inevitable.
Take those scientists involved in conservation, for example. Darwin spelled it out for us, but we seem to conveniently forget that extinction is a fundamental part of evolution. And yet the conservationists get all squirly when species become ‘endangered’. Now, an endangered species is, by definition, not doing a great job of surviving in the world. Something has tipped the scales out of its favour and it is in decline. Coming up with innovative ways to prop up a lifeform does it no favours in the long run – like subsidies in a free market, it creates false balances that then have to be maintained at all costs, which, like the CAP in Europe, prevents anyone ever being able to move back from the position, or even move on from it.
Now I get it: many species in the endangered list are there because the factor against them is us – humans. But we are a part of the ecosystem, and as much as we think we can stand back from it all and decide which species to save and which to let slide under, I don’t think it gets us very far. We are, in fact, interfering with natural selection. Of course, that’s kind of ok, because our role in the ecosystem just becomes a more complicated one and whatever we do, we are exerting some sort of balance of selection pressure on all other species but, as with the market examples, it takes more effort to artificially extend the non-extinction of a species, and insofar as it is a choice, it is the conservativism of the scientific community (broadly speaking) that interests me.