We know too little about the interaction of species and their effects on each other within ecosystems. What we do know is fascinating. For instance, check out this National Geographic video about how wolves changed rivers, as peculiar as that sounds.
We also know that research is telling us that extinction rates today are at least 1,000 times higher than normal. That’s alarming. Some experts are calling it a sixth mass extinction.
There are many reasons for these dangerous extinction trends. Chief among them is the loss of habitat.
With this in mind — we’re losing species at alarming rates and we’re not sufficiently protecting their habitat — we should be doubling up our conservation efforts. Despite this imperative, the Trump administration has proposed new rules to weaken the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. law aimed at preventing extinction and helping species recover.
If you want to dig deeper into the administration’s proposed changes, here’s a good New Yorker piece that dives into the passage of the law in 1973, a column by a professor that ran in several newspapers, and one more story for good measure.
The gist of the Trump administration rollback is this: protections for threatened species (one step better than endangered) will be weakened, critical habitat will be harder to protect, and economic impacts will now play a role in whether we should trouble ourselves with saving a species.
Political opposition to the plan has been ramping up. I really like the response from Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), in which he slams the proposal — and what an adorable baby Florida panther on his page! Also, check out this letter from Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Tom Udall (D-NM), as well as 31 other U.S. senators.
But opposition from within Congress, while important, isn’t enough. As I write this, there’s an open public comment period. We the American people have an opportunity to tell the administration what we think and feel about its plan.
If you agree that when species are disappearing at disturbing rates, choosing to weaken protections for species is wrongheaded, then please join us in urging the Trump administration to withdraw these proposals.