Ron Magill is an internationally known advocate for wildlife, and a locally beloved fixture at ZooMiami. Yesterday, an article he authored appeared in the Miami Community Newspaper, and it is a “must read” for anyone who cares about our environment.
The Gutting of the Endangered Species Act
Recently, the United Nations, a non-partisan global authority, issued a sad and sobering report stating that under the present conditions, there is a strong possibility that up to 1 million species of wildlife will become extinct within the next several decades. We are presently experiencing what is officially called the “Anthropocene,” also known as “The Sixth Mass Extinction” which is the highest rate of extinction since the loss of the dinosaurs 45 million years ago. Yet, rather than striving to provide additional support towards preserving our world’s precious wildlife, this administration has chosen to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act, the most effective piece of legislation ever written in this country to protect our world’s precious natural treasures.
He goes on to describe how changes to Endangered Species Act regulations issued this past week will devastate protections to our wildlife. In an administration that censors scientists from even using the word “climate change”, it should be no surprise “that climate change cannot be considered as a factor when deciding if a species qualifies to be protected.” But it still feels like a punch to the gut.
The second major issue is the change that now allows governments to consider the “cost” of protecting a species. In other words, how much money is being forfeited by not being able to disturb a protected habitat to dig for oil or gas, and allowing the financial benefits of the exploitation of the land to trump the importance of protecting it for future generations. When an administration starts to put a price tag on something that is priceless, we are going down a very slippery slope.
As Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, notes: “In trying to gut Endangered Species Act, Trump administration puts profits ahead of people.” Because this isn’t just about endangered animals. It’s about an endangered planet that we all have to live on. By weakening the Endangered Species Act, Trump is trying to make it easier to use public lands & protected habitats for oil drilling and coal mining that contribute to pollution and climate change. Or as Jay Inslee put it, “this isn’t just bad for the bald eagle or the grizzly bear – it’s bad for our kids and their health.”
Ron Magill speaks for me here as well:
I am dumbfounded trying to understand how at a time when we are losing species at a rate of up to 1,000 times faster than past historical times, this administration is trying to make it easier to remove species from the protected list while making it harder to place a species on it.