This post on the scienceblog The Last Word on Nothing is both a lament and a confession. The writer laments sport fishing’s role in disrupting ecosystems by heedlessly stocking native waters with imported species; and he confesses complicity, in that he has enjoyed catching trout that didn’t evolve where he caught them, and that have muscled out native species with a cascade of consequences.
Conservation is certainly a worthy cause. An ecosystem in balance is like an irreplaceable work of art; a species is a master brushstroke, and biodiversity the whole gallery. To appreciate these treasures, and to recognize that what we gain long-term by studying them could far outweigh what we gain short-term by destroying them, is uncommon sense.
We’re finally just a part of nature, a rampaging, disruptive part that stirs the pot on a scale that probably no other organism bigger than a bacterium can rival. Before we go, we will cause tragic losses and also unimaginable gains. Life will evolve and adapt, perhaps even to microplastics.
Feel guilt, by all means, but feel it with a grain of salt. Some superintelligent rat of the future will thank you. By existing.