Happy Endangered Species Day!

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Today is Endangered Species Day and I would be remiss if I didn't carve out a bit of time for a quick post (I just moved my family to NRDC's Chicago Office and have been kept quite busy given by Wednesday's listing of the polar bear as a threatened species so posting has been light recently).  Today, I hope that everyone who cares about wildlife can pause and reflect on the beauty of wonder of the diversity of life, whose surface in many ways we have scarcely scratched.  Despite all the grim news about wildlife that we so often hear, perhaps we can feel a bit of pride too.  Science tells us all the time that things we once thought separated humans from other life--tool use, language, culture--are not, in fact, unique and are shared by many other creatures in the world.  And that's a good thing.  But when it comes to caring other forms of life we are unique.  The United States, and other nations all over the world, have passed laws--imperfect and fickley enforced, but laws--mandating the protection of threatened wildlife.   Just take our friend the polar bear, for example.  In the last year, over 600,000 people wrote to the U.S. government and demanded that the polar bear be protected under the US. Endangered Species Act.  The fact that we even have an Endangered Species Act is remarkable enough.  The fact that so many people care so much about vanishing wildlife is inspiring.  Aldo Leopld wrote:

For one species to mourn the death of another is a new thing under the sun. The Cro-Magnon who slew the last mammoth thought only of steaks. The sportsman who shot the last [Passenger] pigeon thought only of his prowess. The sailor who clubbed the last auck thought of nothing at all. But we, who have lost our pigeons, mourn the loss. Had the funeral been ours, the pigeons would hardly have mourned us. In this fact...lies objective evidence of our superiority over the beasts.

So happy Endangered Species Day everyone.