The fight to preserve endangered species is much misunderstood. It’s not about cuddly critters or keeping every species in existence around forever for some liberal ethical reasons. Well, okay, that has a lot to do with how this issue is sold to the public (“Aww, save the cute polar bears!”). But, endangered species’ preservation is about something much more important to us: Maintaining biodiversity for us and our posterity.
Rapidly accelerating global warming makes the fight to preserve biodiversity a whole new ball game. Climate change is widely expected to lead to a catastrophic mass extinction of species. Thus, like so many of our country’s problems, the endangered species issue is growing more (1) urgent, (2) bound up with other issues, and (3) global in scope.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that every action ever undertaken to protect a species is above criticism or was worth the costs. Nor does it mean that the Endangered Species Act, or state efforts to protect species, are perfecty vehicles for balancing economic and environmental interests. However, preserving the planet’s vast mix of animal and plant species is very important nonetheless. Unmfortunatley, abolishing the Endangered Species Act (ESA), or at least gutting it, is a priority for political conservatives and the Republican Party. Belief that the ESA is unconstitutional is practically an article of faith with them.
I don’t know much about this issue. But, Peter will guide us through it in a brief opening. Here are some links to basic background and recent developments.
- [3/31 UPDATE:] Wiki entry on Endangered Species Act. Skimming it shows that the act used to not take into account the economic/business impact of protecting species, but now it does.]
- Basics on “endangered species” from Wiki.
- The growing threats to biodiversity.
- Climate change could endanger 1/4th of earth’s species by 2060! That’s 1 million species and we may be on the brink of a major biodiversity crisis.
- FWIW, over 60% of Americans say that endangered species’ extinction and loss of the Amazon worry them a lot. Of course, any poll that asks “do you care” about a public problem and not about solutions and their tradeoffs tells us little of use.