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Extinction is a natural phenomenon

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Although I seldom have time to watch TV interviews on the morning news while I’m getting ready for work, last week I overheard a guest who sounded as if he was blaming those he thought responsible for climate change for animals going extinct.

I think that’s the first time I’ve heard that angle, but I’m sure if there’s anything to it, or even if there’s not, we are certain to hear more about it in the coming days. Stay tuned for an investigative team special report.

Anyway, I’d coincidentally begun writing a column some months ago about animals becoming extinct, though it was not so much about the “why” but was more of a list of examples along with tidbits about each one. Here are a few of those mentioned.

The most well-known of all animal species now extinct are probably the dinosaurs, which faded out some 65 million years ago after living on earth for about 165 million years.

More recent examples are the dodo bird that was around for only about 100 years and died out in the 17th century; the woolly mammoth, a giant hairy, elephant-like creature with huge tusks that became extinct about 10,000 years ago and the giant rodent from more than 2 million years ago that was over 10 feet long and weighed more than 1,000 pounds.

Also on the list was the passenger pigeon that writers tell us filled the skies during the 1800s with the last one dying in 1914; the saber-toothed tiger that died out about 10,000 years ago and Steller’s sea cow, similar to our present-day manatee that weighed 10 tons and was more than 25 feet long and became extinct in the 18th century.

We don’t seem to hear as much about animal extinction now as we did only a few years ago since I guess it’s no longer the trendy topic it was earlier.

For a long time, we were told almost every animal on earth was on the endangered species list and risking extinction, mostly due to man’s negligence. Sound familiar?

Maybe I’m wrong, but from what I’ve either read or heard recently, the ones to blame for climate change, and now possibly for animals becoming extinct, come from a group consisting of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy.

Please choose the one or ones you think to be mostly responsible based on your own personal set of criteria and values. There are no wrong answers.

Just wondering, though, with all the blame being tossed around, who should be credited for things like the world population of tigers increasing over the last decade from 3,200 to 3,890 or the bald eagle going from being on the endangered species list in 1978 to being removed from the list entirely with its population now healthy and increasing?

While researching the earlier column, I also came across a statement from Google that said; ‘Scientists have determined that approximately 99.9% of all the animals that have ever lived on earth were already extinct before the coming of man that occurred some 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.”

Ponder that for a moment.

I’ll bet there were some really interesting varieties among the 99.9% that were all gone before we got here.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the most recently updated list showing the number of plants and animals on the worldwide endangered species list and risking possible extinction is 16,306.

Look it up if you’re interested and maybe you can make plans to see some of them now before they become extinct over the next few thousand years.

If anything can be learned from all this, it’s that while any animal species becoming extinct may seem like a big deal and a reason for concern, it’s apparently nothing we should get too bent out of shape about.

Furthermore, since Mother Earth has been spinning on its own just fine for the past 4½ billion years, give or take a few million years, chances seem pretty good it might be able to take care of itself a little while longer without mankind getting too heavily involved and embroiled in the thick of it.

Keith Barnes is a reporter for the Johnstonian News. Email him at kbarnes.jhn@wilsontimes.com.

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