Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why I'm a Care (polar) Bear

The question was asked to day in response to my post below, "Why do we care about the Polar Bear?" The answer I think across the board with the various endangered species can be boiled down to a simple point. Before man came to this planet there was a certain number of species and as man has evolved and from more powerful countless species have perished.

Each species that goes extinct represents a part of the eco-system gone. The commentor's example was the Passenger Pidgeon, a species lost to the world in the early part of the last century. The commenter posits that the loss of this species represents no direct impact on man, and therefore was rightly ignored. I have no idea if he is right on the first point, but on the second, I must disagree. Biodiversity is a measure of the sustainability of life on this planet. The more species our planet can support, the more vitality our eco-system demonstrates. The loss of any given species might be ignored, but taken in totality our planet is beginning to lose it's ability to sustain life.

The polar bear, like the spotted owl before it, is becoming a symbol for a larger environmental issue. Instead of deforestation now, its global warming. The polar bear isn't dying off because of some internal dysfunction, it is dying off because we are losing ice at the polar caps. These are vital to human existence.

To conclude I would have to disagree with the commenter's premise. The idea that if an extinction doesn't affect man, man should take no action. Every extinction affects man, even if in a small way. Moreover, I especially disagree with using the Polar Bear as an example of this premise, because its health is barometer of the health of the ice caps. If they melt, humans are in for a world of hurt.

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