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Are humans to blame for certain animal extinctions?

Debate Information

Position: For
February 2018 Tournament | Round 1 - Debate 4
  1. Live Poll


    11 votes
    1. Yes
    2. No

Debra AI Prediction


Details +


47% (40 Points)


53% (45 Points)

Votes: 7

Debate Type: Traditional Debate

Voting Format: Casual Voting

Opponent: agsr

Rounds: 3

Time Per Round: 24 Hours Per Round

Voting Period: 24 Hours

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3


Post Argument Now Debate Details +


  • Round 1 | Position: Against
    agsragsr 881 Pts   -  
    Animal extinction is a sensitive topic and we've seen it turn into dramatic stories in the media and Hollywood, warning us of how pollution, hunting, and other human behavior is responsible for extinction or endangerment of many species.
    Some of the stories become really emotional, when we see photos of starving polar bears due to the climate change.

    However, since part of this tournament I was assigned the "against" position, I will argue that humans are NOT to blame for extinction of certain species.

    Lets start with the fact that 99% of species that existed at some point are extinct anyway, and that has to do with evolution and ongoing change in the ecosystem.  
    When any variable is introduced into an ecosystem, some species will be impacted directly or indirectly. As some species benefit, that has unexpected detrimental affect on other species.

    Humans are clearly a major variable that was introduced into the ecosystem and did impact large number of species in many ways - arguably in detrimental way for many species.  Our hunting, poaching, and destruction of forests as we industrialize rural areas are not helpful for some impacted species.  

    But are humans "to blame"?  Are we to be blamed for being humans? Are tigers to be blamed for hunting?  
    Are we to be blamed as a human collective, or certain sub-groups of individuals?

    If the debate is "are some humans to blame for some animals to become instinct" then sure. As a member of human race I find it difficult to accept responsibility for some tribe in the jungle poaching endangered species. Am I to be blamed for not being a vegetarian, driving a car, and maybe occasionally squashing pesticide spray to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes?

    I would like my opponent to focus the position on proving beyond reasonable doubt that there is absolute proof that humans as a collective race should be actually "blamed" for some specific species going instinct and that we had done in a way that should've been prevented at a macro scale.

    If the argument is that we cleared some forests and that enabled us to create jobs and avoid starvation for hundreds of human children, and as a side effect of that some animals in the ecosystem went extinct (joining the 99% club), does that lay blame on us as a human race - or do means justify the ends?
    Live Long and Prosper
  • Round 1 | Position: For
    FascismFascism 344 Pts   -  
    In response to the argument question "Are humans to blame for certain animal extinctions?", I will argue that humans are to blame for certain animal extinctions. 

    The point of this debate isn't to see who is right, but to see which one of us is better at arguing. So if you are judging I ask you to please judge based on who won the debate and not who you agree with. 

    I will be putting out my arguments on round one, refuting my opponent's arguments on round two, and clarifying my arguments and rebuttals on round three. 

    Good luck to my opponent. 

    Human - a human being, especially a person as distinguished from an animal or (in science fiction) an alien. 
    Blame - assign responsibility for a fault or wrong. 
    Certain - specific but not explicitly named or stated. 
    Animal - a living organism that feeds on organic matter, typically having specialized sense organs and nervous system and able to respond rapidly to stimuli. 
    Extinction - the state or process of a species, family, or larger group being or becoming extinct. 


    1. In the argument question "Are humans to blame for certain animal extinctions?" there are some terms that should be clarified. When referring to humans, it is talking about multiple human beings. It doesn't refer to just one human, but it doesn't automatically mean every single human as well. Also the word blame indicates that the humans will be assigned responsibility to a wrongdoing. So in this argument's context, I will be arguing that multiple human beings have done something unnecessary or morally wrong which directly caused multiple extinctions of certain animals. 

    2. Poaching is a major factor in animal extinction. In Africa, elephants are hunted for their tusks, rhino's for their horns, and other game for their meat. The difference between hunting and poaching is the fact that poaching is illegal. Governments set up regulations to protect these animals, but poachers evade the law. This is immoral since these illegal items are usually sold for a high price, and it doesn't help anyone except for the poachers themselves, who could be making a living out of something else. Unlike other animals, this doesn't feed anyone except the poachers. Poaching has contributed to the extinction of many animals in the past. 

    3. It can be argued that the poachers are just trying to earn a living and provide for their families. This is only true with some poachers. Poaching is not only a problem in the poorer areas of Africa, but also in more developed areas. Even the US has a huge problem with poachers hunting out of season. Many of these poachers simply hunt for sport without anyone benefitting. 

    4. Trophy hunting is a legal form of hunting which many nations allow. The purpose of trophy hunting is to allow hunters to hunt animals legally for a payment. The payment would then be contributed to saving endangered species. This has been successful in a few areas, but some governments use the money for the wrong purposes. Due to corruption, the government authorities keep the money for themselves. The money goes to these politicians pockets instead of the intended use of conserving certain species. This is especially the case in Zimbabwe. 
  • Round 2 | Position: Against
    agsragsr 881 Pts   -  
    Thank you for your opening arguments and I look forward to continuing this debate.

    I will refute below each of the 4 arguments of my opponent.

    1) Clarification of word "humans" in this context:
    While I agree with my opponent that the word "humans" doesn't mean "every single human" I don't agree that it means "multiple".  For entire human race to be considered "blamed", we should see proof of systemic violations by material portion of humans that is tolerated /unpunished by the overall human race. We have 7.6 billion people on the planet.

    Out of the 7.6 billion, "multiple" would need to represent a material percentage of population to demonstrate overall blame accountabilty.  I will argue that human race should be presumed innocent unless my opponent can demonstrate that atleast 20% of population is found guilty. That would be about 1.5 billion people.

    In fact, most activities referenced by my opponent are considered illegal and are actively enforced.  
    We "humans" :) have laws, policies, governance to prevent illegal behavior and evolve our laws and enforcement measures overtime to catch up with wrongdoing and bad behavior.

    2) Poaching:
    I agree that poaching is unethical, but it's also illegal (as confirmed by my opponent) and in fact poachers are criminals who evade the law.  I would estimate that poachers represent a tiny percentage of outlaws compared to 7.6 billion people and do not represent human race as a whole.  "Humans" don't equate to "poachers". 
    We cannot assign accountability to humans for poachers as we actively look to prevent this illegal activity.

    3) Poachers earning a living:
    Not all poaching results in actual full extinction (the subject of this debate) of species and likely in many cases results only in endangerment.  Some poachers also as my opponent pointed out are doing it to earn a living (and therefore may have some defense if it's perhaps to avoid starvation of their family).  Overall, poaching is illegal in all cases regardless.
    if we couple this point with my point 2 above: 
    poaching is illegal and represents a tiny fraction of the 7.6 billion population
    some of poaching maybe (arguable, but not critical in this debate) actually justified 
    No evidence how much poaching results in complete species extinction 

    4) no evidence that trophy hunting actually resulted in extinction of any specific species

    Live Long and Prosper
  • Round 2 | Position: For
    FascismFascism 344 Pts   -  
    1. I accept this definition, but it should also be worth noting that this could apply to any time period. If humans unethically caused an animal to go extinct sometime in the past, modern humans in particular wouldn't be to blame, but humans in general are still to blame. 

    2. It is true that since we are trying to stop poachers they are doing illegal activities, therefore humans as a whole can't be blamed since their aren't many poachers who  compared to the global population. People working with the poachers on the hand are plentiful. ; ;

    3. Many poachers don't need to poach to earn a living and only some poachers do it out of absolute necessity. These poachers are mainly located in the impoverished areas of Africa. The people working for the poachers definitely don't do it out of absolute necessity. 

    4. Trophy hunting doesn't directly cause the extinction of certain animals, but it does contribute. Also the main point of my argument here wasn't to blame the trophy hunters, since most of them do it responsibly anyways, but instead to blame the corrupt officials who use the trophy hunting money for the wrong reasons. They have a responsibility to save endangered animals, but they use it for themselves. Almost every country in the world has these corrupt officials, but Africa, the Indian-subcontinent, and other Asian countries house most of them. 
    Evidence of corruption resulting in extinction would be the extinction of the black rhino, which used to lived in parts of Africa, including Zimbabwe. 

    And in order to address the new definition: 

    1. The main reason for animal extinction is habitat loss. A person can only be "blamed" if he takes up land not out of necessity, but in an immoral way. One example of inefficient land usage, which could be solved, but doesn't receive enough attention is urban sprawl. Urban sprawl is a highly inefficient way of housing service workers. The solution to urban sprawl is already being implemented in many areas of the world. Urban sprawl is the result of improved transportation and communication leading to the decentralization of cities due to gentrification. Most developed countries have the majority of their populations in the suburbans. Landfills are an other example.
    Solving Urban Sprawl 
    (If the link doesn't work click the first link here:

    2. Plastic is not necessity, but simply a convenience. There might be some cases where plastic absolutely needs to be used, but for the purpose of this argument we refer to plastic for convenience. This can cause pollution and extinction since plastic is hard to decompose. The Baiji Dolphin is an extinct animal affected by plastic. Most of the world's population uses plastic.

    Another clarification to be made is that many of these causes weren't the sole reasons an animal went extinct, but are contributions. 
  • Round 3 | Position: For
    FascismFascism 344 Pts   -   edited February 2018
    1. - 

    2 & 3. Like I stated before, the poachers are doing illegal activities, and aren't representative of the entire population, but are still part of the population which is to blame. As we agreed, if 20% of the population is at fault, then humanity is at fault. The poachers contribute to the total population. 

    4. I forfeit this argument. 

    5. I provided evidence that much of the world population is involved in urban sprawl, and that habitat loss is the primary cause of extinction. 

    6. Plastic wasn't the primary factor, but it was still a large factor. This species may have had a chance if it weren't for the plastic. 

    Humans are to blame for certain animals to go extinct. 

    Good debate to my opponent. 
  • Round 3 | Position: Against
    agsragsr 881 Pts   -  
    Thank you for posting your argument. 

    Below are my responses to your round 2 points.

    1) Thank you for accepting my definition and I also agree on your suggestion regarding timing.  

    2) we both agreed that humans in general find poaching illegal and actively looking to stop them.  While there are rare exceptions, to my earlier point these are bad seeds and not representative of humans as a whole.  Example provided is an isolated case and still illegal.

    3) regardless whether poachers do that to earn a living or not, my argument still applies that it’s illegal and there wasn’t evidence provided that it actually caused extinction.

    4) we both agreed that trophy hunters don’t directly cause extinction and whether officials misappropriate the funds is not a cause of species extinction either.

    5) habitat loss - I agree that it’s an issue, but we can’t point to that as blame to combined “human race” nor have seen direct evidence for consideration which societies were extinct because of it.

    6) plastic - I agree that it’s an issue for many species, but evidence presented by my opponent don’t attribute that as a primary cause of extinction of mentioned species.  It can be a contributing factor,  but that’s unclear.

    in summary, thank you for debating with me, but my points weren’t refuted. 
    Live Long and Prosper
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