ENDANGERED SPECIES

Hardly a day goes by that we’re not hearing about some animal or plant species threatened by extinction. But if Darwin was right, and evolution is the survival of the fittest, why is it so important to save endangered species? I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

ambience: Panda vocalizations

The sounds we’re listening to were made by Giant pandas, one of the many endangered species studied by George Schaller, Director of Science at Wildlife Conservation Society.

“We are now going through an extraordinary period in our history, in that we are involved in the greatest extermination of species which this world has seen in 65 million years. But that period of extermination long ago, due probably to climatic change, took about eight million years. We have a extinction spasm, as it’s called, which is a matter of a hundred years, right now, in which we’re wiping out hundreds of thousands and maybe several million species. In other words, we are wiping out the future options.”

“We’ve got millions of species vanishing quietly, without anybody to mourn their passing, because they’re completely unknown. There are many people who rightly feel these creatures, who’ve been here long before humankind has been here, have also a right to exist, and we may actually need them. So you have had this century which has been one of unparalleled destruction. One hopes that the next century will be one of rehabilitation.”

Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

ENDANGERED SPECIES

If evolution is the survival of the fittest, what's the value of saving plants and animals that are threatened by extinction?
Air Date:11/04/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

Hardly a day goes by that we're not hearing about some animal or plant species threatened by extinction. But if Darwin was right, and evolution is the survival of the fittest, why is it so important to save endangered species? I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

ambience: Panda vocalizations

The sounds we're listening to were made by Giant pandas, one of the many endangered species studied by George Schaller, Director of Science at Wildlife Conservation Society.

"We are now going through an extraordinary period in our history, in that we are involved in the greatest extermination of species which this world has seen in 65 million years. But that period of extermination long ago, due probably to climatic change, took about eight million years. We have a extinction spasm, as it's called, which is a matter of a hundred years, right now, in which we're wiping out hundreds of thousands and maybe several million species. In other words, we are wiping out the future options."

"We've got millions of species vanishing quietly, without anybody to mourn their passing, because they're completely unknown. There are many people who rightly feel these creatures, who've been here long before humankind has been here, have also a right to exist, and we may actually need them. So you have had this century which has been one of unparalleled destruction. One hopes that the next century will be one of rehabilitation."

Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.