Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why care about endangered species?” you ask? Good question. (Besides, it sure beats answering the question: “Why do straight men wear ‘gay’ underwear?”)
So why care about endangered species? Let’s review a bit first, shall we? According to a government website The Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 is an act that “recognizes that many of our nation’s valuable plant and wildlife resources have been lost and that other species are close to extinction. The Act provides a means to help preserve these species and their habitat for future generations.”
It’s true that extinction is a natural process that has been happening since before man walked the earth. Through a process known as speciation, species come and species go at a balanced rate. Unfortunately, some of those annoying folks who point the finger at mankind without acknowledging they are part of mankind are to some extent right.
Air and water pollution, forest clearing, loss of wetlands and other assorted human-induced environmental changes have hastened extinctions beyond the normal speciation rate. According to Noah Greenwald, endangered species program director of the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson, Arizona, said that “scientists say we are experiencing a greatly accelerated rate of extinction that has become 1,000 to 10,000 times the historical rate of extinction.” He adds that they fear that by 2050, between 30 and 50 percent of all species on earth could be headed for extinction.
Another reason to care is that each extinction reduces the complexity and diversity of life. This diversity sometimes provides us with medications and of course food. Not to mention when we lose a species anything the species could have done for us is lost as well.
Even if the loss of one specific species might not seem all that important, all life is interconnected. Once enough “living connections” are broken, entire ecosystems could collapse thus forever altering the balance of nature. Eventually our own survival could be in danger.
Greenwald told the Mother Nature Network’s Tom Oder that folks “should care about extinction for the same reason that the coal miner should be concerned that the canary is lying motionless on the bottom of the cage. Just as the canary is a sign of trouble with the air in the mine, the loss of species indicates impending problems for the health of the planet.”
It’s in our interest to care about endangered species. Greenwald explains: “When we lose species out of ecosystems we start losing the services those ecosystems provide . . . (and) the functionality of ecosystems goes down.”
Why care about endangered species? Now you know.
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