Saturday, 13 April 2013

Endangered Species Act 40th anniversary: Where are we now?

Endangered Species Act 40th anniversary: Where are we now?, The Endangered Species Act is turning 40 this year and although many great steps have been taken to protect plants and animals threatened with extinction, there is growing concern with new legislation that will undermine the profound effectiveness of the Act's provisions. Despite the prestigious history of the Act (only roughly 1% of listed species have gone extinct since its enactment) business minded lawmakers continue to argue the Act's success rate.

H.R. 933, signed into law by President Obama, has given genetic engineering giants like Monsanto the right to plant crops without first completing an environmental impact assessment, and to disallow federal courts from stepping in when human and environmental health are concerned. The adverse effects on native plants and insects that the pesticide heavy GMO crops impose is well documented, yet this danger seems to be literally forgotten with the introduction of a bill like this.

Another approach to undermine the Act's authority happened last year in West Texas and East New Mexico. The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard was on the way to be listed as threatened but instead is now protected under the scrutiny of local communities and oil and gas companies, instead of federal biologists. To leave a species' recovery to people without the proper education and credentials to fully understand the scope of the problem is a gamble that this fragile desert ecosystem cannot afford to make.

If these kinds of efforts continue to erode the power that the ESA needs to protect our plants and wildlife from the destructive consequences of unregulated business, our nations natural beauty will eventually collapse. Without biodiversity, life cannot continue to thrive. The elimination of any one plant or animal can become a catalyst in the unfurling of entire ecosystems and in turn disrupt the natural balance of complexity that has taken millions of years of evolution to accomplish.

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