Re: a to-do list for the next century

From: Stirling Westrup (
Date: Thu Mar 23 2000 - 06:05:22 MST

Robert J. Bradbury wrote:

> I believe that it was pointed out in Science a year or two
> ago, that efforts to catalogue and preserve endangered
> species was wrong-headed. Why? Because the investment
> of time and money for each "endangered" species was so
> large and the extinction rate so rapid, that while you
> were saving one species you were aware of you would be
> losing hundreds you were unaware of.

The problem with this is that there is no such high extinction rate at
present. To cite "Species Loss Revisited" by Julian Simon and Aaron
Wildavsky (reprinted in the book "The State of Humanity" by Julian Simon):

  "The scare about species extinction has been manufactured in complete
contradiction of the scientific data.
  The highest proven observed rate of extinction until now is only one
species per year. Yet the "official" forecast has been 40,000 species
dying out per year in this century, a million in all.


Additional criticism of the "bio-geography" theory of extinction rates
recently been reported in _Science_ (Charles C. Mann, "Extinction: Are
Ecologists Crying Wolf?", _Science_, 253 (Aug. 1991), 736-8), but further
discussion is beyond the scope of this paper."

Now, don't get me wrong. I am of the opinion that every extinction that
occurs is a tragedy, and a worse one if we haven't gotten ANY samples of
DNA since we have no idea what marvelous inventions mother nature has
encoded there. I just think that we need to have a well balanced view of
what the actual ecological problems of the world are, as opposed to what
the scare mongers would have us believe.

 Stirling Westrup  |  Use of the Internet by this poster       |  is not to be construed as a tacit
                   |  endorsement of Western Technological
                   |  Civilization or its appurtenances.

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