Thursday, November 30, 2006

Are penguins heading towards extinction?

There is concern that twelve penguin species worldwide are under the threat of extinction. The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a petition to put the twelve species under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Global warming is thought to be the cause of reduced food supply and decreased penguin populations. Humans are said to be the main contributors to global warming. The Center believes that “predators, disease, habitat destruction, disturbance of breeding colonies, oil spills, marine pollution, and in some cases, direct harvest”, are threatening penguins. There is belief that the people of Earth are in denial about what is happening and that the government of the United States needs to take control of the situation before it’s too late.

If the criteria of the Endangered Species Act were met and the species were listed, the economy could incur substantial economic costs. Knowing that economic costs are not required to be examined when making policy decisions in reference to the ESA is of concern to me. No, I do not want to see penguins disappear, but at what cost should we keep them around? Is it even possible to save them? What if the scientists are wrong about global warming? These are all questions that I do not have answers to. It says in the article that there is evidence that the “costs of reducing emissions will be vastly outweighed by the economic benefits of reducing future warming”. I just have to wonder if this is really true. If this were true, why have the companies not taken it upon themselves to invest in capital that would reduce global warming? It just does not seem to be me that it would be cheaper for them. It would add to their costs. Government would not be needed to enforce regulations if the companies had their own incentives to invest in cleaner capital. So, should we save the penguins? Probably. However, I feel that there is more information that is needed before we ultimately turn to the ESA.

No comments: