Should an invasive species be wiped out to save an ecosystem? In this flash-fiction story a politician must make a very difficult decision.
“What you are contemplating is genocide. It goes against every law, every ethic, the very moral fiber of civilized society,” said the commissioner. He paced angrily, his arms clasped behind his back. “Our goal is to foster life, not destroy it. I cannot and will not consider this action.”
The young xeno-ecologist took a deep breath. She was on thin ice, and she knew it. “I understand your position, sir,” she argued tentatively. “But keep in mind that the soft-shelled parasites are destroying themselves along with the rest of the ecosystem. If we remove this single species from the environment now, we will restore the balance of life on the planet and save countless other species from extinction.”
“You of all people should know that you cannot remove a species from a biosphere without jeopardizing the entire ecological system,” roared the commissioner. “What about the food cycle, the chain of biological interdependencies?”
How dare the commissioner, a mere politician, lecture her about ecological balance? “Sir, your argument is correct in almost all cases. This situation, however, is one of the rare exceptions to the rule. Our xeno-biologists have run hundreds of computer simulations. All of them, every single one, show the imminent collapse of the biosphere. Even worse, in nearly 10 percent of the simulations, the damage to the environment is so complete that all life on the planet’s surface is destroyed. The computers also report that little or no real damage will result from the removal of the damaging parasites.”