Which Species Must Die?
Looks like you're on your own, rockhopper penguins. If you can't wing it in this world alone, we'll just have to say adieu. The costly, long-shot measures needed to protect you are more than most cash-strapped conservation organizations can justify.
Same goes to you, Chinese water dolphins. You're cute and all, but you really serve no meaningful role in your ecosystem. Not compared to, say, gray wolves—top predators that control animal populations—or whitebark pines, critical food for grizzly bears. Now they're worth saving.
And so long, mangrove forests. Sure, you provide a critical role in protecting coastlines, by trapping sediment and slowing the flow of water, but you don't have much going on otherwise. Sequoia forests, on the other hand, those are rich biodiversity hotspots. They house all manner of unique plants and animals—definitely worth the investment...
Believe it or not, there is method to this madness. In the August 2012 issue of Scientific American, Colorado-based journalist Michelle Nijhuis investigates some of the new systems of triage that scientists are using determine which species to save and which to leave to die.
This reality is a stomach turner, but conservation groups can no longer afford to try to protect as many plants and animals as they did in the past. As budgets shrink and environmental stresses grow, politicians continue to prioritize the economy over the environment.
Bottom line: When you can't save them all, you are forced to play god.
Article continues at Discovery News
Rockhopper Penguin via Shutterstock