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Desert Diary
Biology/Like Diamonds


Museum conservators are people who see to it that the condition of objects in the collections doesn't degenerate through time, along with sometimes being responsible for restoring items to an earlier, better condition. One of the rules that they live by is resistance to doing anything that isn't reversible. That way, if an unwise decision is made, all is not lost; the conservator can back up and take another direction.

This ethic is not understood by some elements of society when it comes to animals and plants. Decisions too often are made with little thought beyond the immediate, and the result frequently is irreversible—extinction. Extinction marks the end of a species, the loss of all its members. Although a natural event in the sense that it has happened through time, the activities of man have greatly increased the rate of extinction. In most such cases, we have no way of judging what the long term effects on humans might be—we just don't know enough. The effects of conservators are reversible, but extinction, like diamonds, are forever!
pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.