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Environmental Change and Species Extinction

Facts Concerning Environmental Change and Species Extinction

According to Charles Darwin, environmental change and species extinction are both necessary in order for biological evolution to occur. As Darwin himself stated: "As natural selection acts solely by the preservation of profitable modifications, each new form will tend in a fully-stocked country to take the place of, and finally to exterminate, its own less improved parent or other less-favoured forms with which it comes into competition. Thus extinction and natural selection will, as we have seen, go hand in hand. Hence, if we look at each species as descended from some other unknown form, both the parent and all the transitional varieties will generally have been exterminated by the very process of formation and perfection of the new form." (emphasis mine) Darwin proposed that environmental changes, and the resulting competition for resources, would result in the survival of the best fitted individuals. It was this competition, and the subsequent extinction of less favorable forms, that would result in the formation of new species. Darwin knew that environmental changes, and species extinction, were foundational to his theory.

For the individual organism environmental changes may take one of two forms: the external environment of the organism may change or the organism itself may move into a changed environment. In the first case environmental changes may include changes in temperature, pH, intensity of sunlight, etc.... These changes take place where the organism resides. In the second case the organism moves into an area where the conditions are different from where it used to live. In both cases the organism is in an environment different from what it had originally. It is the organisms response to these differences that forms the foundation of natural selection.

According to Darwin, as individuals face these changing environmental conditions only those that are the best "fitted" will survive. These "fit" individuals reproduce thus passing on their acquired characteristics to their offspring. As a result other less fit populations will lose out in the competition for food and other resources. Over time these less fit populations may become extinct as the more "fit" species take their place. It is this process that results in descent with modification and the formation of new and improved forms. Again from Charles Darwin: "The extinction of species and of whole groups of species, which has played so conspicuous a part in the history of the organic world, almost inevitably follows on the principle of natural selection; for old forms will be supplanted by new and improved forms."

Environmental changes can lead to extinction in one of three ways. As the environment changes a species can lose out in the competition for resources to better fitted individuals. Over a period of time these "better fitted" individuals will replace their inferior competition. This type of extinction takes place slowly over a long period of time. Environmental changes can also be so dramatic that an entire species is exterminated in a short period of time. This then allows other species to take their place. This type of extinction happens very rapidly. An example would be the extinction of the dinosaurs. In the third case, as individuals move into new, and different, environments they may out compete the resident species for food and other resources. Eventually these invasive individuals may drive the previous residents to extinction. This type of extinction may take place over a long period of time.

In all three cases extinction is the natural outcome of the evolutionary process. Evolution depends on descent with modification resulting in more improved forms which will then cause the extinction of less improved forms. As Darwin himself said: "Thus, as it seems to me, the manner in which single species and whole groups of species become extinct, accords well with the theory of natural selection. We need not marvel at extinction; if we must marvel, let it be at our presumption in imagining for a moment that we understand the many complex contingencies, on which the existence of each species depends."

Observations on Environmental Change and Species Extinction

Save the whales. Save the turtles. Save something. Why is it that we are so concerned with saving all those species that evolution is evidently willing to exterminate. Global warming, the growing ozone hole and melting ice caps strike fear into so many. But why? According to evolutionary theory these environmental change will only result in the "better fitted" individuals surviving. Over time new species that are "better fitted" for the new environment will result. For some reason those who profess to accept the idea of evolution are appalled at the natural consequence of extinction. As we have seen, extinctions are a requirement of the evolutionary process. Beside this fact let us consider what would happen if extinctions could somehow be prevented.

It is accepted by modern science that the dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago. This extinction is thought to have been the result of a large meteor striking the earth. This meteor-strike sent up a huge cloud of dust into the atmosphere. This dust-cloud prevented sunshine from hitting the earth. The lack of sunshine then caused a shortage of oxygen and also a cooling temperature. These changing environmental conditions resulted in the extinction of the majority of dinosaurs. Scientists believe that it was the extinction of these dinosaurs that allowed mammals to prosper. Evolutionary theory teaches that these primitive small mammals eventually developed, over millions and millions of years, into the human race.

But let us imagine for a moment that 65 million years ago some space aliens came to earth and witnessed the devastation caused by this meteor. Instantly these aliens sprang into action. They started a campaign to collect money to "save the dinosaurs". What would have happened if they had been successful? According to evolution we, the human race, would not be here. According to accepted evolutionary process the only reason that mammals, of which we are one, even had a chance to evolve was that most dinosaurs had gone extinct.

It is estimated that only 1% of the species that have ever lived are still here on the earth today. What happened to the other 99%? They went extinct of course. But would have happened if we could have prevented all these extinctions from occurring? The earth would be covered miles deep in plants, animals, bacteria, fungi and every other life form that has ever lived. It was obvious to Darwin, and it should also be obvious to us, that extinctions are necessary in order for the evolutionary process to take place. Without extinctions evolution cannot occur.

So-called "invasive species" is another popular topic for conservationists. The introduction of the sea lamprey into the Great Lakes and the rabbit into Australia are only two of many cases of species introductions that are claimed to have wreaked havoc on "natural" ecosystems. Every year millions of dollars are spent trying to prevent living organisms from moving into new environments. And yet, just as with other environmental changes, these changes agree completely with the evolutionary process.

What if Darwin's finches had never migrated from the mainland to the Galapagos Islands? Or what if Darwin had killed these birds in an attempt to prevent them from driving to extinction the species that were already present? If he had then we would not today have what are known as Darwin's Finches. These are the very same finches which are so often used as proof of evolution. Darwin proposed that as species move into different areas they very well could out-compete the resident species. The original species was then driven to extinction and replaced by a "better fitted" species. Species migration, and the resulting extinctions, are just one more aspect of evolution. And yet this natural outcome of evolution is derided by most modern day scientists, the media and also popular opinion. We spend millions of tax dollars every year trying to undo what evolution requires.

Preventing environmental change and species extinction is more in line with creationism than evolution. A creationist believes that the species that are here on the earth were created by God. Creationists believe that when a species goes extinct it is gone forever. An evolutionist on the other hand believes, or at least should believe, that every species that goes extinct is simply replaced by, or is making room for, one that is "better fitted" for its environment.

Some may claim that humans are changing the environment at a faster rate than nature does. This turns out to be a false claim. For humans have been discussing global warming, the depletion of the ozone layer, invasive species and many other environmental changes for a long period of time. And yet it is hard to imagine any environmental change taking place faster than what happened when that giant meteor struck the earth 65 million years ago. The eventual result of that very sudden environmental change was the human race. Evolution demands environmental changes and species extinction. Charles Darwin knew that extinctions were part of the evolutionary process. The conservation movement is totally opposed to the process of evolution. An evolutionist who supports conservation is like an atheist giving to their local church. It is a contradiction in terms.

In addition to accepting environmental change as a requirement for evolution a more insidious result of evolution must be accepted as well. And that result would be racism.


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