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  March/April 1996 Features:
Assault on Mauna Loa
Where the Mountains Have No Name
A Natural History of the Yellowstone Tourist
Fish Out of Water
Ways & Means
Food for Thought
Hearth & Home
Good Going
Way to Go
Sierra Club Bulletin
Last Words

Sierra Magazine
Last Words: A Question of Moment

Have we done enough to save endangered species?

Theorize and apologize until the biosphere burns up, but the grievous evidence proves that other beings can't survive the consequences of our speciocentric arrogance. Neither will we.
Paul Osenbaugh, Brooklyn, New York

Have we done enough? Look to the present Congress for the answer. Those of us who value natural things beyond the money they can be exchanged for must be forever vigilant, committed, and united in our efforts.
David Salomone, Long Island, New York

Yes, we have done enough. It is now time for the Endangered Species Act to be reformed and reauthorized so that it protects jobs and private-property owners along with wildlife. We need a balanced approach to species protection instead of the current law which does not consider the social and economic impacts on working men and women and their communities.
Howard W. Robertson, Arlington, Virginia

Inherent in the use and proliferation of automobiles, and the gas, roads, and shortsighted economic policies they run on, is the destruction of the entire natural world. Last I checked, we had done next to nothing to curtail the use of automobiles and prevent the attending collapse of global ecosystems.
Todd Walton, Berkeley, California

Considering that at the start of this organization the population of the earth's most destructive species was approximately 1.5 billion, by 1950 had reached the best "sustainable" limit of 2.5 billion, and is now estimated to exceed 5.7 billion, and therefore threatens the extinction of all species, including itself, the obvious answer is: No!
Richard B. Benner, Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

Endangered species are symptoms of the damage people have done to ecosystems worldwide. We must protect, restore, and connect wildlife habitat with large-scale networks of preserves and wilderness areas. Our elected representatives, influenced as they are by many forces, can't be trusted to do this job. We members of the Sierra Club should support the Wildlands Project, which is mapping a vision for North America. We also should be actively involved with land trust organizations, which are preserving habitat acre-by-acre around the world.
Ted Harris, Crawfordsville, Indiana

Efforts of Sierra Club members to save endangered species have left us far from salient ecological discussion. The billions of dollars and gallons of fertilizer flow like a river before us as we gaze uncomprehendingly across them at the sunset. We can no longer expect a reservoir of natural species to save us, but have hardly yet engaged in meaningful dialogue about the transition to a sustainable ecology that must occur. Perhaps we need to plan a massive repopulation of rural areas with a less productive, but ecologically acceptable agrarianism--but we can hardly speak the words. Club members master the most complex legal question about the most remote tracts, and then idly imagine the day when we'll be able to bicycle to work. Where, pray tell? The endangered species are our miner's canary, but we've also got to save the carrier of the canary.
Terry Scott, Seattle, Washington

Have we done enough? Of course not! Yet concern for endangered species, although dramatic, is not the essential issue. The issue is our responsibility toward all life. The issue is our environmental redemption. No level of spotted-owl sacrifice will provide a sustainable old-growth forest. What's good for the owl is, in the end, good for us. The solution is not in law. The solution is in ourselves.
Michael S. Arant, ,Kearneysville, West Virginia

The whole earth was once habitat for abundant plant and animal life, until we humans "civilized" it. The least we can do now is share what's left with those nonhuman life-forms that we have not yet managed to exterminate.
Carol Gastl, Shawnee, Kansas

I find the very question offensive. Can we claim credit for "saving" the very species we have driven to the brink of extinction? All species have the inherent right to exist. We need to stop acting like lords of the earth and begin acting like members. We do no favor to a species if we lift it out and "save" it before we destroy its habitat.
Marianne Wurtele Siller, Lago Vista, Texas

With 75 species per day disappearing from the planet; with old-growth forests, the only home many species have, continuing to disappear; with dam turbines continuing to turn the last of the salmon runs into fish emulsion, and with cows continuing to eat and trample many plants into extinction, how can we even contemplate whether we have done enough? The complete and total immorality of ending evolution as the world has known it for 3 billion years requires that we do everything we can. Humans can adapt to rapidly changing or extreme climatic conditions; most animal species cannot.
Tom Myers, Reno, Nevada

Well, if we had done enough, they wouldn't be endangered.
Jon McCreight, Princeton, Minnesota

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