Extinction rates are difficult to measure. We don’t know exactly how many species exist, and we don’t know how fast they’re dying off, or when.
Why don’t more people seem bothered by these numbers? Are they ignorant of them? Do they have competing priorities and a limited capacity for caring (as I do)?
Even so, can we assume that people generally care about extinction? Put another way, is it intellectually or morally possible to not be bothered by extinction?
Probably. Well, certainly—differing logical and moral systems lead to differing conclusions on relative value all the time. But what might a non-caring argument look like?
In Jurassic Park Jeff Goldblum claimed that “life finds a way.” And if life finds a way—if nature stands independent of human meddling—then why be bothered by extinction? Life can and will repair itself.
This leads to larger-scale arguments. On a long enough timeline, everything goes extinct. The sun will run out of fuel and collapse. Life will end. Who cares if it ends now rather than later?
A semantically similar argument can be made about evolution. The process of speciation is mechanistic and arbitrary. There’s no deeper “meaning” behind a single species’ existence – they’re the lucky winners of a long, hard, unthinking game of chance. Why place value in their existence? Why care?
There are, I think, both practical and moral retorts to these arguments. But who should make them? And who is listening?