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Moving Endangered Species to Save Them From Global Warming?

Moving Endangered Species To Save From Global Warming?

The biological community is facing global climate change with a radical plan to create a sort of Darwin-assisted species-triage program: moving threatened species to safer locations. As we heard in Al Gore's big global warming speech yesterday, warming is huge — and one of the effects is that many species are now facing extinction as the weather shifts, leading some to ask if a big move can lead to the salvation of a species.

Ten years ago, this idea was wildly opposed when it was introduced into the scientific community as data on global warming began mounting. Now, as warming becomes more acute, scientists and conservationists are seriously considering the idea of providing a one-way ticket to disappearing species.

The yellow flower is Helianthemum Alpestre. The flower only appears for one day and the pollen must be spread by insects, warmin

A garden at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Washington. The zoo provides a home for 35 endangered species.

Only approximately 200 Corroboree frogs exist in the wild.

Green turtles, listed as an endangered species, nest in several Taiwanese offshore islands during summer and this year only six

Baby orang-utan in Indonesia at the Taman Safari, which plays an important role in breeding rare and endangered animals.

China's Giant Panda.

Baby Siberian Tiger, one of the world's most endangered species.

Polar bears. A new addition.

Could humans make the list sooner than we think?

A Blue Whale spotted in California.

Radical ideas are tricky, and this is no exception. There are two major sticking points. To see what those problems entail,


The first hitch is, as any biologist will tell you, if you move any species from one environment to another it might not survive — or worse — it may fare entirely too well and destroy its new neighbors with impunity. If one of the newer kids on the endangered block, the Polar Bear, were moved to the only other environment in which it might call home – Antarctica – the penguins would most likely go extinct very quickly having no natural defense against the new predator, Marching, no more.

The second dilemma is what to save and what to let slip away into the oblivion of eternal death. Stanford biologist, Terry Root, says: “Ultimately the decision about whether to actively assist the movement of a species into new territories will rest on ethical and aesthetic grounds as much as on hard science.” And there's a cute factor? Would the more precious like the baby Siberian Tiger pictured above get preferential treatment over the Oahu tree snail?

No matter what scientists decide to save and what to let go extinct, there are those that simply have no alternatives. The native endangered species of the Sky Islands in Arizona and New Mexico have such specific survival environments that can not be found elsewhere. Root is objective about such fates: “Those species are functionally extinct right now. They’re toast.”

Hopefully the new homes won't be on the list of endangered places . . . but is moving species the solution? Should endangered species pack their bags?


Join The Conversation
Bksuga Bksuga 9 years
I feel horrible when i hear something like this..I feel we should do all we can to help them survive but at the same time relize what damage we could do if we move them. (cant we just put them in space?) just kidding?
The rate of extinction is at 1000 times the natural rate. The relocation may not be the answer, but how about not continuing to destroy the ecosystems for our convenience. 'Oh, that's a nice mountain, I should cut down all the trees and build myself a home there.'
True-Song True-Song 9 years
That is lovely! And true. It's our job to take care of the planet, and we have been slacking.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Wether by natural selection or by the grace of God we have been given the task of stewards to this Earth. As for this new age Noa's Ark the task of immigrating species is extremely delicate. The act it self also shows a desperation which is very telling of where the world is today. I've always loved animals and my mother said I should be a Vet. because strays would see me and run right to my feet. I can remember when I was no more than eight years old never heard the word environmentalist, my parents were certainly not green in the least. They were just worried about raising six kids and paying the bills. I was watching the story of Daine Fossy one night on my little black and white TV. It left an indelable print on my soul that we are not here just to work pay bills and die or to be indifferent to our co-terrestrial species at the expense of their very existance for our creature comforts. We are here to play a significant roll in what is nothing short of a masterpiece a creation to be cherished not taken for granted.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Haven't we learned that we can't play God? All this will do is create more havoc. Let the animals , and adapt. The climate isn't changing so quickly as to be considered abnormal. In fact, 2008 is on pace to be only as warm as 1998 (according to the weather channel). Which is the exact opposite of what the "experts" had predicted.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
I kind of thought of the fancy zoos thing, too, Steph. I know not all zoos as they are now treat animals well, etc., but I don't think it's not possible. I do see what you're saying about the Noah's Ark thing, though.
stephley stephley 9 years
Well Yester, China's making cat food... I did look at the baby tiger and think 'really fancy zoos?', but that's not a solution. I just think we'd end up with a kind of Noah's Ark, floating ahead of environmental disaster forever.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
I can see why we'd want to stick to the principle not to eff with nature, but at the same time we pretty much already have monumentally changed the Earth's landscape. So it's a tricky one, I can't come down on either side.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
i think it all comes down to interfering with the ecosystem that humans rely upon as well... which takes "survival of the fittest" off the table. we took it off the table for ourselves about a hundred years ago when modern medicine came on the scene. now we're doing it for animals. i guess at some point domesticated animals will be all thats left! thank god they are still making cat food!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
I agree that it isn't the best idea to try to relocate a species. In the end, we could have the unintended consequence of doing more harm than good. I'm with Torgelson - I would be more than happy to relocate that darling little tiger cub to my house!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Finally, we are now, officially, God!
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Yeah, this really seems to make no sense. I remember learning about ecosystems at a very young age. Every species in each ecosystem is dependent on its current conditions for survival; climate change might cause a species to die and and disturb the entire system, but it seems like moving an entire species would disturb two entire systems.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
I'd be happy to relocate the baby tiger into my lap for right now. It is super cute. PS, what's the deal with the picture of the baby? Do some babies need to be relocated due to global warming?
CitizenSugar CitizenSugar 9 years
But stephley, baby tiger! Look at the baby tiger! But seriously though, it's such a wild plan. Not to mention the fact that I bet if there had been an endangered list then, dinosaurs would have been on it? Should they have been moved and saved? At what point do we meddle scientifically and at what point to the fittest just have to survive?
True-Song True-Song 9 years
I always feel a little conflicted about stuff like this. On the one hand, hooray for people who are trying to save the animals. On the other hand, I worry we'll make a mistake when intervening and make things worse.
stephley stephley 9 years
Moving doesn't seem like a really great idea at all - in addition to the two problems listed, how would we know the best place to move a species? How long would it be the best place? To risk the natural balance in one place to possibly save a threatened species from another doesn't make a whole lot of long term sense.
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