American Elephants

Everything You Wanted To Know About Endangered Species… by The Elephant's Child

“Emperor penguins, whose long treks across Antarctic ice to mate have been immortalized by Hollywood, are heading towards extinction, scientists say. Based on predictions of sea ice extent from climate change models, the penguins are likely to see their numbers plummet by 95% by 2100. That level of decline could wreak havoc on the delicate Antarctic food chain. The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” —BBC News, 26 January 2009

“Nearly twice as many emperor penguins inhabit Antarctica as was thought. UK, US and Australian scientists used satellite technology to trace and count the iconic birds, finding them to number almost 600,000. The extent of sea ice in the Antarctic has been relatively stable in recent years (unlike in the Arctic), although this picture hides some fairly large regional variations.” –Jonathan Amos, BBC News, 13 April 2012

The effort to save species that seem in danger of becoming extinct is a noble one, but it is really hard to tell. Are these the only ones, or are there more over there— on the other side of the hill? Where do you look? Is there a natural predator that has grown too numerous? In this era of environmentalism, many would be environmentalists have erred in their enthusiasm to be the noble ones who saved a species.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of saving species if they are truly endangered;  but the record of the Endangered Species Act is somewhat embarrassing. Having grown up in the back of beyond, I understand how very hard it is to find a particular plant or animal in all of nature.

If you have prowled the internet at all today, you may have run into an indignant story about how dead-broke California spent $205,000 to relocate a plant growing in a concrete-bound median strip on a San Francisco highway. It was thought to be the last living specimen of Arctostaphylos franciscana, a form of manzanita,  but it turns out that a California nursery has plenty for about $15 each.

And as I pointed out last week, the polar bears are just fine. Native peoples are more apt to know if there is a decline in numbers of a species, but there’s a need for common sense here. If the endangered species just happens to prevent something that the greenies have been complaining about, your suspicions are probably correct.

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