When President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act in 1973, he inadvertently codified Aldo Leopold’s stylish but stupid aphorism, “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” Should we lament the extinction of smallpox, or expand the ESA to protect unique life forms such as various viruses for future generations? Before we “Save the fungus among us!” as Gary Larson once quipped, we might want to reconsider what we are already trying to save—and, more importantly, how we are going about it.
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