photo by Hagerty Ryan, USFWS

The small dunes sagebrush lizard in Texas is on the verge of getting designated an endangered species, now that its habitat is being ripped up to mine sand to frack with. And God knows you don’t want to frack with the oil industry in Texas. Adios, small dunes sagebrush lizard!

Goodness, what a situation. We have hard-working timber families here hollering about having to leave a smidge of old-growth forest alone so some dumb little bird can nest in it, when we could get another twenty years of wages out of it before it’s all gone. In America, of course, over 96% of our virgin forests have already been mowed down. There’s a dab left in the Pacific Northwest and 80% of that is slated for the mill.

Well, we can’t even save the polar bears, but critters farther down on the charisma scale are truly screwed. Humans will flat howl about protecting the insignificant little bastards, if it interferes with the life they’ve always had. “Always” in this case might mean about two generations, tops, and not the kind of “always” that applied to the uncharismatic critter, who had been trundling happily along for a million years. But we’re Number One. Nobody can demolish the systems that maintain existence like we can.

It’s a nasty trick evolution played on us, giving us such fancy big brains along with the foresight of a mayfly.

Generally speaking when a legacy critter or plant is about to kiss off, there might be an attempt to justify saving it because it has a specific monetary benefit to people, and not just a right to life, to borrow a phrase. Maybe our dwindling lichen can be used to make a boner pill, maybe our rare bromeliad dries up zits. Maybe we can save our two-inch lizard in the Permian Basin if it can be marketed into shoes and pocketbooks for Barbie dolls. It might be valuable, in other words.

In the Permian basin we’ve already drawn down our fresh water reserves past replenishing, but we still have the technology to pull out the rest of it to bust up shale for fossil fuel that will ensure our own extinction. And why not? After all, we still have air conditioning and bottled water.

Ben Shepperd, a petroleum-industry shill and smarm merchant, said this: “I don’t believe they can tell you how many lizards there are today. How many lizards there were two years ago, 10 years ago, nor what distinguishes a healthy population.”

Ben Shepperd, you dumb shit.

Of course we know how many lizards there are. And were. There are people who go out and systematically count them, and monitor their environment. Yes there are, and yes they do. Just because you can’t imagine doing such a thing because it’s sweaty work without a lot of money in it, it still gets done. It’s how science works. It’s data collection. It’s a way of fucking knowing what you’re talking about instead of starting with your conclusion (“I like money”) and making up shit to get there (“Jewish billionaires invented global warming to destroy the economy”).

Ben Shepperd, honey, a few days ago we got a delivery of 4.5-billion-year-old rubble from an asteroid 50 million miles away. We sent out a spacecraft seven years ago to suck it off the asteroid and now that it’s dropped off its load in the Utah desert it’s going back out for another asteroid. Everything went exactly as planned, except the desert drop was three minutes early.

Scientists actually do know things. But it takes a special kind of stupid to have access to all this knowledge and throw it all away if it messes with your play date. Honestly, Ben, you and your kind would sell cherry-flavored cyanide if there was a buck in it.

The asteroid we got the rubble from is going to come so close to the Earth in 2182 that it might even crash into us, Ben. If you and your petro-pals don’t succeed in making our blessed planet into a moonscape by then, there might still be scientists around to fend it off.