Archive for October 15th, 2008

My Debate Question

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Here’s a question that hasn’t been raised, to my knoweldge, in any of the debates. And yet it may be one of the single most pressing issues of our time. It took shape for me this morning when I read Verlyn Klinkenborg’s column in the New York Times. Here’s the nut:

The financial markets will eventually come back, but not the species we are squandering.

Last week in Barcelona, Spain, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature released results of a global survey of mammal populations. It concluded that at least a quarter of mammal species are headed toward extinction in the near future. Don’t think of this as an across-the-board culling of mammals, of everything from elephants to the minutest of shrews. The first ones to go will be the big ones. And among the big ones, the first to go will be primates, which are already grievously threatened. Nearly 80 percent of the primate species in southern and southeastern Asia are immediately threatened.

The causes are almost all directly related to human activity, including, for marine mammals, the growing threat of ocean acidification, as the oceans absorb the carbon dioxide we emit.

He goes on to discuss the perils facing reptiles, fish, and birds.

Question for Sens. McCain and Obama: Would it be important, in your administration, to try to address the problems of mass extinction? If so, how would you approach the issue strategically? How would you directly address the human activities that are destroying the biodiversity of the Earth?