Toxic Trump’s Dis-Administration Wants to Gut the Endangered Species Act

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Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus.

Just as experts at the UN have warned the world that one million species are on the brink of extinction, toxic Trump and his enablers are slashing the Endangered Species Act. I was going to try to be more politically correct in this post and not call Donald Trump and his dis-administration “toxic,” but there really is no other word. His is the party of death, destruction, and hate. In fact, I don’t even want to pollute UniGuide with his name. But he and his enablers need to be called out.

Today the Trump dis-administration announced they will change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied. According to the Washington Post, the changes “will end blanket protections for animals newly deemed threatened and allow federal authorities for the first time to take into account the economic cost of protecting a particular species.”

Donald Trump
Donald Trump. Photo: Gage Skidmore

In a statement, reports Lisa Friedman in the New York Times, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said, “The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal – recovery of our rarest species. The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent, and efficient implementation.”

David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior under Donald Trump
David Bernhardt, Secretary of the Interior under Donald Trump. Photo: U.S. Department of Interior.

“Clear, consistent, and efficient implementation” of a law is not achieved by breaking it. And that’s what they’re doing. This party of corruption and disregard for the rule of law is breaking yet another law to serve the greedy interests of a few, at the expense of our health, the lives of other living species, and the well-being of future generations.

Wilbur Ross
Wilbur Ross, United States Secretary of Commerce. Photo: Palácio do Planalto.

 

Inexcusable, Willful Denial of the Impacts of Climate Change

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that the finalized revisions “fit squarely within the president’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public, without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals.”

The “regulatory burden on the American public.” Give me a break.

Let’s be clear: This is about business interests. Some people’s business interests. Not everyone’s business interests. This is NOT about the “American public” and it certainly is not about protecting other species we share this planet with.

If you look at Trump, Bernhardt, and Ross – do they look like people who know what it feels like to walk silently in a forest woodland so they can listen to the songs of birds? Do they look like people who even know what it feels like to breathe lungfuls of fresh mountain air?

Their slashing of the Endangered Species Act is to enable more drilling for oil and gas, more mining, and more development in the natural habitats where other species live. Their slashing of the Endangered Species Act ignores how the decimation of natural habitats will only further add to the destruction caused by climate change.

Instead of cutting down trees, we need to plant more trees. That’s just one example. These science-deniers have no concept of how the loss of just one species in an ecosystem can impact the entire system.

Do you think they have ever taken four minutes to watch this video?


And they’re gutting the Endangered Species Act for money? For economic interests? Whose? It’s estimated that climate change is going to cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few decades. Do they care about the next generation? Do they care about their grandchildren? Or are they planning to raise toxic children in their toxic, dead world?

As, I said – they’re lazy in their thinking. They lack imagination. They lack the ability to innovate.

It’s Trump’s junk food approach to economics: impulsive reactions to appease addictions at the expense of overall health and longevity.

I am all for making money. I am a capitalist. I’m also pro-innovation. Trump is a technical Luddite. His and his enablers’ approach to economics is way behind the times. These are not the type of people who are going to invent the next Tesla or Impossible Foods.

We need to focus on renewable energy, not fossil fuels. We need to focus on recycling existing materials, not extracting virgin materials from our beleaguered planet. We need to focus on greener cities, not exploiting the last few precious wilderness areas we have left.

Look all around. Listen to what the scientists are saying. Read the peer-reviewed scientific studies. The days of raping and pillaging the Earth are over.

Florida manatee
Florida manatee, richechus manatus latirostris. Photo: Keith Ramos, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

If not for the Endangered Species Act:

  • The bald eagle – the symbol of the United States – would be extinct.
  • The grizzly bear would be extinct.
  • The peregrine falcon would be extinct.
  • The humpback whale would be extinct.
  • The Florida manatee would be extinct.
  • The Louisiana black bear would be extinct.
  • The whooping crane would be extinct.
  • The list goes on.

According to Tamara Dietrich in the Washington Post, since 1975, the number of endangered species has skyrocketed from 137 to 1,663. Another 43 species have recovered enough to be removed from the list – but survived because of the Endangered Species Act.

In no other time in history, except at the time of the dinosaurs, have more living species been at risk of total annihilation. But what is different from what happened with the dinosaurs is that the cause of mass deaths today is us. Our consumption habits, our over-population, our hubris, and our greed – this is what is killing life on this planet.

Humpback whale underwater
Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae. Photo: NOAA.

 

This is what’s causing mass extinction now:

  • Climate change from our greenhouse gas emissions
  • Habitat loss, such as clearcutting rainforests to grow feedstock for cattle to graze on so people can eat beef (which causes cancer and heart disease)
  • Over-fishing and over-hunting
  • Invasion of non-native species in natural habitats
  • Pollutants we put into the air, oceans, waterways, and land

The Endangered Species Act is the most powerful tool that we have available to protect at-risk wildlife, says Collette Adkins, as reported in the Washington Post. She’s the senior attorney and carnivore conservation director in the Minneapolis office of the Center for Biological Diversity. About 95% of the species that the Endangered Species Act safeguards are still hanging on.

“What’s really powerful about it,” she said, “is that once these species have its protections, certain threats are eliminated. What can be frustrating when you have a crisis like we’re experiencing now is that the (act) only kicks in once those species are on the brink of extinction.”

Adkins added that it takes even greater amounts of time and money to get the species recovered again.

Plants and animals are at risk of dying if the person who occupies the Oval Office is anti-environment, as is the case right now.

“If the president is pro-environment,” said Adkins, “there are more species listed. And if the president is against the environment, there are fewer species listed,” she said in the Washington Post.

 

Number of species added to the Endangered Species List during the last few U.S. presidential administrations:

  • Ronald Reagan: 256 species added, at a rate of 32 per year
  • George H.W. Bush: 235 species added, or 59 per year
  • Bill Clinton: 525 added, or 66 per year
  • George W. Bush: 60 added, or just 8 per year
  • Barack Obama: 390 added, or 49 per year
  • Donald Trump: 16 species added so far, or 6 per year

Data: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Source: Washington Post.

Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) and cubs
A grizzly bear, Ursus arctos, and her cubs in Denali National Park and Preserve. Photo: Tim Rains, National Park Service.

 

What You Can Do to Protect Endangered Species

We have to keep in mind that while we have an anti-environment and anti-biodiversity dis-administration in office, which is also anti-science, we risk even knowing what species of plants and animals are at risk because scientists can be hampered in their work. This is why supporting NGOs that focus on biodiversity protection is so important.

Call your state senators and representatives.

Emails and petitions are important, but phone calls have a big impact with elected officials. Call your state senators and representatives and tell them you’re against the gutting of the Endangered Species Act.

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

Here are a couple places where you can see which species are endangered in your area:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

National Geographic Interactive Map with Endangered Species

Here are some organizations that protect biodiversity:

Center for Biological Diversity

Panthera

Xerces Society

Jane Goodall Institute

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

Conservation International

National Audubon Society

Oceana

Keep fighting. My motto is: I will not give up until I’m dead. And even then, people who know me and love me – and even those who don’t know me but who love people, animals, and our planet – will keep fighting. Never give up the fight to protect life on Planet Earth.

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