SunSpecial: Pulling on Loose Threads   Leave a comment

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”      John Muir

This weekend, we honor Endangered Species Day. Some calendars mark the day as May 16; others state May 18 (we think endangered and threatened species should be remembered everyday); but throughout the country, Zoos, Aquariums, Environmental Educators, and friends-of-the environment will be remembering the species that are gone – and working to keep even more plants and animals from going away, forever.

The most respected environmental scientists report 905 extinct species and 16,928 listed as threatened with extinction, worldwide. In North America, 256 plant and animal species are now gone and hundreds more threatened. Due to global warming, it’s believed every wild Polar Bear (Ursus articus) could be extinct in less than fifty years.

But why does every species matter? Is every little insect and each type of bird and all the various types of grass and flowers and trees really necessary? What could we, as humans, loose with a few more species gone; what harm could it possibly be?

Aside from the behavior and purpose of species we know – like bees and other insects pollinating plants (which result in nearly every fruit and vegetable); and predators preventing swarming over populations that would overrun and destroy everything in their path; and plants providing oxygen (aside from being nice to look at); no one knows what other roles each and every species play in our world; and through the loss of even one, otherwise insignificant-appearing plant or animal, what string would be loosened which unravels an ecosystem, or an environment, or the world. Is that a risk, we’re willing to take?


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