Extinction vs accuracy

Patrick Foley patfoley at csus.edu
Mon Jan 15 11:01:46 EST 2001

Ron and others,
Let me reiterate that the term "extinct" is used by scientists studying
extinction for both local extinction and global extinction of a species. I
didn't decide this. Environmental activists didn't decide this. It was decided
by a consensus of the scientific community. It was not a perfect choice, but it
will not change because it annoys the wise use movement.
Patrick Foley
patfoley at csus.edu
Ron Gatrelle wrote:
> Someone (I have already deleted the massage) used the word _weight_ in
> conjunction with what term is best for locally missing taxa.  The truth is
> that activists (on any front) are very adept at yelling fire in the
> theater. Activists are looking for action. Thus, they choose words with the
> proper weight to stir sentiment and motivate events in their direction.
> Any way one cuts it, extinct means gone to never return again. Atala was
> never extinct in Florida. Celastrina ebenina was a seldom seen form until
> it was realized that it was a species and what its habitat is. Now it's
> known as a somewhat widespread species. N. mitchellii pops are now known to
> occur in Mississippi and Alabama and will quite possibly turn out to have
> numerous colonies is the seldom visited, snake infested, southern swamps.
> Accuracy is what needs to be communicated. If something is extinct then use
> that term. If locally absent then just say that. If a status is unknown but
> probably whatever then say that. It is fine to warn of fire in the theater
> if there is one. But if not, when there really is one nobody will pay much
> heed. We who are on the side of the environment have used words like
> extinct, crisis, immanent, so often that Joe Public (whose support we must
> have) is beginning to just see us as using chronic over, or mis, statement.
> If actives what to continue to use terms with  more _weight_ then be
> advised that is no where to go in ones terminology but down. Or, will we
> become like the magician of Princess Bride and say, well, they were only
> mostly dead, now they are fully dead - extinct. They were only mostly on
> the verge now they are really or fully or completely on the verge.
> The Red Wolf was once extirpated from South Carolina. Now it has been
> reintroduced -  because that taxon has never been extinct.
> Ron
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