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Shortening the Endangered List

Thelma Lujan
University of Texas at El Paso
RWS 1302
April 14, 2017

This paper examines the importance of shortening the endangered species list by first explaining

the dimensions of the problem and secondly to understand the consequences humanity is facing.

Many species of mainly animals and plants are on the endangered species list. This list doesnt

only list species as endangered, rather it classifies them into nine different categories. The

extensive list is provided by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union of

Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Both sets of lists are similar in their content but the

Red List provides the public with more extensive data pertaining to the species listed. It is

difficult to predict all the changes humanity will face when species go extinct but this paper will

give a few examples as to what humanity can expect.


Shortening the Endangered List

Its so easy to let it happen. For all human history, we have shared our planet with thousands of

other species yet we put their existence at risk. Humans are largely responsible when animals

become extinct, endangered or threatened. The destruction of habitats, hunting, fishing, and

pollution are some reasons why animals become endangered and added to the list.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened

Species is a worldwide conservation status listing and ranking system. It classifies

species into nine categories: Extinct (EX), Extinct in the Wild (EW), Critically

Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN), Vulnerable (VU), Near Threatened (NT), Least

Concern (LC), Data Deficient (DD), and Not Evaluated (NE). The official term

threatened is a subset made up of three categories those which were listed previously as

Critically Endangered, Endangered, and Vulnerable. (n.p.)

In September of 2016 the Giant Panda was taken off the endangered list and is now classified

as vulnerable. The news was announced as a change to the IUCN Red List and the rise in their

population numbers is mainly due to the success of repopulating bamboo forests in China. (n.p.)

The bumble bee was recently added to the endangered list in the United States for the first time.

Their addition to the list is due to several reasons such as loss of habitat, disease, climate change

and pesticides to name a few. (n.p.) Every pollinator, animal, plant, and insect is important to our

habitat and protecting them is crucial to our planet. This paper examines the importance of

shortening the endangered species list by first explaining the dimensions of the problem and

secondly to understand the consequences humanity is facing.


Literature Review

The endangered species problem has already progressed too far to avoid it. The

Preservation of Species by Bryan G. Norton (2014) asks the question What kind of problem is

it?. With the use of the words preservation and conservation one would assume that it is a

complex scientific problem, a question of how to understand, predict, and measure the

phenomena of extinction and endangerment of species and their effects on the biological world

(p. 4), but it is much more complex than that because it raises questions of action and value. First

there is to be understood that there is a difference between conservation and preservation as these

terms will be used quite frequently throughout the paper. To conserve means to protect or restore

the natural environment, ecosystems, and wildlife. To preserve means to keep alive or in

existence. These two terms go hand-in-hand when it comes down to shortening the endangered

species list. Thomas Lovejoy (2014) another one of the contributors to The Preservation of

Species, addresses the problem as being a global concern for developed nations as well as those

that are still developing.


To begin to understand how long the endangered species list is the question How many

are there? must be asked first. According to Lovejoy Estimates of numbers of endangered

species were first restricted to warm-blooded vertebrates, because birds and mammals are among

the most noticed elements of the biota (p. 13) but today lists prepared by the IUCN and the U.S

Department of the Interior attempt to include all forms of life. Most species of plants and animals

are yet to be discovered making the task of listing endangered species that much difficult. For

any species to be considered endangered the U.S. Department of the Interior addresses it must

be one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range (Doub,

2016, p. 47). The World Wildlife Fund is an organization that aims for saving landscapes and

species but their focus to save endangered species is much more extensive. We have refined the

way in which we work around an ambitious new strategy. Our new strategy puts people at the

center and organizes our work around six key areas: forests, marine, freshwater, wildlife, food

and climate (n.p.). Their website provides the public with an extended list of species classified

into the nine categories previously listed in this paper. Although the image below only shows a

Figure 1: Species Directory

portion of the species that are either endangered, vulnerable, or threatened the ones shown are

quite enough to get an idea of how many animals we have put on the list due to exploding

population growth, rising expectation of material well-being, and seemingly autonomous

forces (Lovejoy, p. 3). A major increase in the rate of species extinction will occur, it already

is since the bee was recently added to the list, and it has to be dealt with in some way.

It is difficult to understand how the loss of one single species could affect the day-to-day

life of humanity in many cases. The easiest to understand is the extinction of bees. Without bees

humans would miss out on several crops that include strawberries, avocados, apples and many

others but this by now is common knowledge to most of the public. What about the loss of other

species? loss of clean and reliable water supplies, loss of soil fertility through erosion, and

siltation of reservoirs (Lovejoy, p.20) all of these problems occur with the impoverishment of

the biota.

The reality of the imbalance between pressures on the biota and meager resources

available to rescue the full array of plant and animal species in danger or soon to

be in danger must be faced. It has been suggested that it would be sensible to

make some thoughtful decisions as to which species to save and which to let go.

(Lovejoy, p. 21)

Although the previous statement was meant as a rhetorical question it was meant to awaken the

public to the vast its of the problem with endangered species. It probably wouldn't hurt to let a

few species go extinct but the number could be great and the damage even more so. Plants and

animals depend on each other as well as water, land, and climate to keep our entire system alive.

Small changes can lead to big problems. Take for example the intervention of the gray wolf,

when a mass extermination effort was taken elk populations increased and wiped out man

willows and other riparian plants that songbirds no longer had sufficient food or cover in these

areas, threatening their survival (n.p.) Their decline increased the number of mosquitoes that

they were meant to control. The presence of every creature is interwoven in the environment we

share and their decline or loss could mean unbalance for the planet as well as humanity.

In conclusion, shortening the endangered species list is essential for the thriving of the

planet and humanity. Many species are far gone and others are on the verge of extinction.

It's so easy to let it happen but the world needs to understand that every pollinator,

animal, plant, and insect is important to our habitat and protecting them is crucial to our


Doub, J. P. (2016). The Endangered Species Act: history, implementation, successes, and
controversies (Illustrated ed.). CRC Press. Retrieved April 14, 2017, from the endangered
November, J. (n.d.). Why it Matters When Species Go Extinct. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from
IUCN 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3.
<>. Downloaded on 07 December 2016
(n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2017, from
Norton, B. G. (2016). The Preservation of Species. Princeton Univ Pr. Retrieved April 04, 2017,
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