DOES it matter if species become extinct?

I wouldn’t be asking this question were it not for the irritating Dawkins (see main item on this page) who simply won’t let readers’ minds rest. He just has to keep poking and prodding.

Of course I think the world would be the worse for the absence of the wonderful kakapo – and the panda, the tiger, the white rhino. All these and many more large creatures are on the brink of extinction and it’s mostly because the boss species at the moment is humanity.

Our demand for resources overwhelms other creatures’ comparatively modest claims on the environment.

Behind the scenes, smaller and slightly less interesting creatures are falling off the precipice of existence in their thousands each day. Boffins suggest the rate of extinction is speeding up.

We all pay lip-service to biodiversity but the simple fact is that six billion human beings living on about 7% of the Earth’s surface (the rest is uninhabitable) demand that 7% for themselves.

If we were just another animal competing for finite resources we wouldn’t give it a second thought and would mindlessly consign two thirds of the world’s species to an infinity of non-existence.

But we have minds and sentiments and we imagine we have stewardship of the planet we call our own.

So, does it matter? Of course it does. It matters enormously.

But if the last tiger on earth attacks a child and you have a gun, do you shoot the tiger to save the child?