As humans, we have killed a lot of stuff. And for that reason we should feel responsible for looking after what is left. We’ve destroyed habitats and hunted and polluted things, and so we should consider our job as their stewards. The Biblical document, Genesis, agrees with me (and I do like to find my common ground with religion).
But we’re not infinitely rich, and we need to focus our resources. There are really important things like bees, and cheaper projects like Tigers. But Pandas are really awkward. They want to have sex about three days a year, and they are fussy eaters. I’m sorry, but if your species was dying out you should copulate and eat like, well, you were the last of your species. If you were the last human female no other variable matters, I would give you a ride; humanity would depend on it.
But, on paper at least, I am all for conservation and environmental management. I’m £18,000 in debt for that exact topic, so I must have an idea. And I do: a genetic zoo. Store their DNA. Technology is such that we could save a DNA pattern digitally, as a computer file, and recreate it later for cloning and reproduction using a surrogate. So a supercomputer could be a database on conservation we’ll get back to some other time; extinction doesn’t have to mean ‘lost forever’.
It doesn’t even have to be that complicated. Our conservation database could be a freezer. Sperm and egg samples could be based as male and female DNA samples, and frozen. The message is this: let the pandas die, for now; they have lost the Darwinian struggle (as fussy eaters who infrequently have sex). We can bring them back later when we have the money to ease our species-guilt.