Environmentalism

Making the Short List

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There are some changes in the works at the Department of the Interior for the Endangered Species Act, according to a recent AP story which relies on "a number of draft department documents released by environmentalists."

The opening paragraph of the story:

WASHINGTON (AP)—The Interior Department is considering a broad revamping of how it protects animals and plants in danger of extinction, including changes that critics contend will reduce the number of species that will be saved.

Note the use of the future tense, not the conditional. The sheer act of listing species, it seems, is now sufficient to save them. Neat!

For more on endangered species, check out Ron Bailey's "Shoot, Shovel, and Shut Up."

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  1. Maybe the folks at Interior are building a giant space ship into which two of each kind will be loaded…the list is just the manifest, so getting on there is getting saved. It’s like religion for animals!

  2. there’s nothing in the quoted opening paragraph that refers to listing species, so your snarky reference to listing species is claimed to = saving species is unsupported.

    the ESA has problems, as does US environmental law in general (or law in general), but does anyone (anyone interested in environmental protection, that is) really think the Bush admin’s goal is to “fix” the law in such a way that will enable accomplishing the intent of the law?

  3. The sheer act of listing species, it seems, is now sufficient to save them. Neat!

    Yah ha, Evil Straw Person! Now we have you by the short rabbits!

  4. I’m with biologist. I read that paragraph 3 times trying to figure out what you were being snarky about and I still have no idea.

  5. I hope the add the Turkesian Fulufflebubs. They’re my favorite!

  6. critics contend will reduce the number of species that will be saved.

    Um, what about us critics who contend that the list of government agencies should be shortened by a lot and this one shoulf be first on that list?

  7. the ESA has problems, as does US environmental law in general (or law in general), but does anyone (anyone interested in environmental protection, that is) really think the Bush admin’s goal is to “fix” the law in such a way that will enable accomplishing the intent of the law?

    Why would Bush want to make animal species extinct? I have never met a single person who wanted to wild animals exterminated, regardless of political ideology. Those evil stereotypical Red Staters in fact tend to spend more time outdoors with the animals, doing politically incorrect things like hunting and fishing, than most enviornmentals.

    Some people may choose to let species become exinct when the choice is between animal extinction and stopping development. But that is just more reason to change the laws so that protecting species and promoting economic growth aren’t an either/or equation. If discovering an endangered species on land doesn’t mean someone loses all value of the land, then there wouldn’t be such a big incentive to swiftly and quiety kill endangered species off.

    In fact, if so-called conservationists would simply offer 120% market value price to buy land with endangered species on it, you would likely to see endangered species poppping up everywhere. There would be secret underground bald eagle breeding labs!

  8. biologist,

    How efficacious has the ESA actually been? How bad is the problem that it is supposed to address?

  9. Deliberate misreadins are cute when I use exclaimation points!

  10. That’s a little sexist, don’t ya think, Joe? I mean, I certainly accuse her of intellectual dishonesty but to say she is doing it because it’s “cute” is something I doubt you would say about Ron Bailey.

  11. joe,

    For sake of argument say this was a misreading. How do you know that it is deliberate?

  12. Rex Rhino:

    Why would Bush want to make animal species extinct?

    I never said he did. I do question the Bush administration’s commitment to the rule of law, and to accomplishing the goals of the ESA.

    But that is just more reason to change the laws so that protecting species and promoting economic growth aren’t an either/or equation. If discovering an endangered species on land doesn’t mean someone loses all value of the land, then there wouldn’t be such a big incentive to swiftly and quiety kill endangered species off.

    agreed

    In fact, if so-called conservationists would simply offer 120% market value price to buy land with endangered species on it, you would likely to see endangered species poppping up everywhere. There would be secret underground bald eagle breeding labs!

    true, but one doesn’t make profits by buying land and not developing it, so conservationists tend to be short on cash, especially relative to those who develop/ use land.

    How efficacious has the ESA actually been?

    mixed results. there are more listed species than there are resources available to help them all, so that is a contributing factor. also, it’s easier to drum up political support to save photogenic species than uncharismatic species.

    How bad is the problem that it is supposed to address?

    I’m not sure in what sense(s) you’re asking this, so I can’t answer.

  13. biologist,

    Isn’t it that the case that a number of the listed species were actually described as endangered when they weren’t?

    I’m not sure in what sense(s) you’re asking this, so I can’t answer.

    Are we in the middle of a period of massive species extinction, or are species going extinct at the “normal” rate? Or is it somewhere in between?

  14. What’s wrong with deliberate misreadings? It’s a rhetorical device that criticizes an argument by highlighting its shortcomings. As for myself, I think the short bus provides a valuable service!

  15. true, but one doesn’t make profits by buying land and not developing it, so conservationists tend to be short on cash, especially relative to those who develop/ use land.

    I totally disagree. Given that endangered species are in fact endangered, and therefore rare, there isn’t a lot of land that has truly endangered species on it.

    Also, given the enourmous expense of lobbying the government, advertising, etc., that it takes to get laws passed and then keep the issue in the public eye to maintain the enforcment of the laws, and then the enourmous cost of enforcing those laws (which the conservationists then pay in taxes).

    Basicly, if just a fraction of the people who claim to be so dedication to conservation would donate a small amount of money to protect endangered species, then they could easily afford to save them.

  16. Grotius:

    yes, some species have been listed as endangered that were later discovered not to be endangered. the example I’m aware of is the snail darter, a type of fish. it’s the conservation biology equivalent of a type I statistical error. some conservation biologists have argued (such my ecology professor argued in a peer-reviewed journal article) that in conservation biology contra traditional ecology, we should favor commission of type I errors over type II errors, since a type II error could result in extinction, which is irreversible.

    it is estimated that the current species extinction rate is one to three orders of magnitude higher than the estimated historical background species extinction rate, IIRC.

  17. biology,

    it is estimated that the current species extinction rate is one to three orders of magnitude higher than the estimated historical background species extinction rate, IIRC.

    Based on on the “species area” model, correct?

  18. Grotius:

    I don’t know if that’s based on the species-area relationship. I’ll see if I can find out. I kind of doubt it, though.

  19. I totally disagree. Given that endangered species are in fact endangered, and therefore rare, there isn’t a lot of land that has truly endangered species on it.

    if you think about what you’ve written here, I think you’ll realize it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  20. Its a government program. Ergo, it will be gamed.

    I seem to remember something about how salmon were being classified so that the fish using different rivers to spawn were treated as different species.

    Has it done some good? Probably. Has it inflicted significant damage of the fundamental institution of property rights? You bet your ass.

  21. I certainly accuse her of intellectual dishonesty but to say she is doing it because it’s “cute” is something I doubt you would say about Ron Bailey.

    She is way cuter than Ron Bailey, as I have witnessed in person.

  22. R C Dean | March 29, 2007, 7:25am | #

    Its a government program. Ergo, it will be gamed.

    I seem to remember something about how salmon were being classified so that the fish using different rivers to spawn were treated as different species.

    they may in fact be different species, regardless of whether they will obtain any type of protected status from that. new techniques that permit detection of interbreeding on the molecular level (DNA, proteins) are shedding light on previously hidden diversity. also, there is some controversy on how exactly to define and identify species.

    Has it done some good? Probably. Has it inflicted significant damage of the fundamental institution of property rights? You bet your ass.

    and this should be addressed, but not by gutting the protections the law is supposed to provide

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