Burt Prelutsky

Something else I find irksome is the constant moaning over endangered species. I recently read an article that claimed the earth has gone through four major periods of mass extinctions. About 440 million years ago, give or take a month or so, 85% of marine animal species were wiped out. Roughly 70 million years later, many species of fish and marine invertebrates perished. Then, 245 million years ago, another major extinction of sea and land creatures took place. Finally, a mere 65 million years ago, 75% of all species -- including dinosaurs and saber-toothed tigers -- took French leave. The causes of these massive upheavals have been attributed to volcanic eruptions, huge meteorites and climatic changes which obviously had nothing to do with human beings or the internal combustion engine.

When I read about all those species vanishing from the face of the earth, my immediate reaction is “So what?” But after due deliberation, my response changes from one of mild disinterest to one of jubilation. Imagine if every single time you went outside to collect your newspaper, you had to fight a tyrannosaur for it or had to worry that a pterodactyl was going to swoop down because its idea of fast food is you.

Apparently, there are presently 10 million different species of animal life on earth. Even though, according to this article I read, only a small percent of all animal life has been evaluated, the ecologists estimate that 750 species of fish, 290 species of reptiles and 150 species of amphibians, are currently at risk.

Inasmuch as dogs, cats, horses, llamas, bunnies, cows and guinea pigs, aren’t on the list, frankly, my dear, I don’t give a darn. I mean, how many different kinds of reptiles does anyone need to be really, truly happy?

Thanks to Al Gore and his motley crew, I’m willing to wager that a lot of you suddenly flashed on a mental image of a polar bear going down for the third time. My question is, who cares if polar bears disappeared once and for all? The truth of the matter is that nobody would really miss the vicious brutes. And, what’s more, baby seals would throw a party.