On my trip to the Natural History Museum last week, I also managed to fit in a visit to the summer exhibition, Extinction: Not the End of the World? I really enjoyed the exhibition, which was fascinating and thought-provoking.
Extinction is always thought of as a Bad Thing. However, this exhibition explores the idea that it is not always negative. Species have to die out to make way for others. We humans wouldn’t be here at all if it wasn’t for extinction.
This isn’t to say that we should become complacent about rare and endangered species, or simply shrug our shoulders and allow it to happen. If a species dies out this could disrupt the ecosystem, with lasting consequences. Human action is accelerating decline in many species and this could cause considerable problems.
This isn’t to say that humans are the only factor. Animals may die out for a variety of reasons: increased competition, changes in the environment, or slow breeding processes. The most famous of these is probably the asteroid that (likely) killed off the dinosaurs.
The exhibition offered lots of scope for interaction, and gave viewers the chance to vote on certain issues, such as whether we should make the effort to conserve all animals, or only those that benefit humans. I was pleased to see that most people took the unselfish route and believed that all animals are worth preserving, not just those that are of use to us.
This was a really interesting exhibition and well worth seeing. It’s on until the 8th of September so there’s still time to catch it.