Is every species of living thing on the planet equally deserving of protection?
By protection dost thou mean protection from the human species, or from other species, or from certain other somewhat psychologically unstable members of the same species?
Whosoever asketh this question must be hinting around that Homo sapiens is a highly embarrassing example of a creature that ravages less intelligent species without any regard to the value that other unique living organisms bring to Mother Earth.
Giveth me a break. Long after the human race has become extinct there will still be acrobatic arthropods and curious crustaceans toddling along the (now deserted) highways and byways of this planet. Our reign over the beasts is going to be as brief as a candle burning into the deep night. In the meantime I say we humans have the right of way.
Of course I would be willing to concede equal status to other species at any time, just as soon as they start building hospitals, or solar-powered cars.
During its existence earth has undergone several mass extinctions of species. All but one have been caused by disasters (like asteroids smashing the planet, glaciations...).
The sixth one, which is currently underway, is the only one caused by a species. That's us.
The sixth one has also the quickest rate of extinction.
Of course there will be a few species (half, a third ?) left after we self-extinct. But, has it has been the case for previous extinctions, a few million years will be needed to get to the level of biodiversity earth had before the extinction. We will be as fondly remembered as the asteroid that smashed the dinosaurs. Saying we have the right of way is aiming at being the worst asteroid possible, it's very human. :)
We build much more weapons than hospitals and solar-powered cars combined.
I get a kick out of wondering what this planet will look like 100 million years from now. Will there be any creatures with a modicum of human intelligence around to ponder at the half buried wreckage of our past? Will they pound their fists into the sand like Charlton Heston and scream "God damn you to hell"?
P.S. Hooray for weapons, I say. Without them the U.S. of A. would just be a half-forgotten memory in Sir George Washington's afternoon daydreams while sipping tea on a lazy cruise down the Potomac.
There was an article, I think in Discover magazine, a couple years back. The question was what would happen to a large city like New York say, if the entire population of humans were to suddenly disappear forever. Turns out, the rats, pigeons and cockroaches don't do as well as you'd think (all too dependent on humans). As I recall, wolves ended up being at the top of a crumbling infrastructure.
An interesting exercise, albeit not exactly the question posed here.
Ants will do well no matter what happens to us.
As for the Q and A above,in my opinion both the question and answer suffer from lack of clarity. In my opinion, if we don't slow the rate of extinction we will cause our own extinction.