Tag: laws

Endangered Species Under Attack

Upon learning about the Trump administration’s weakening of our country’s most effective conservation law, I lamented for a moment, then got to work writing this commentary. My editor at KQED Radio accepted it right away, I recorded it yesterday, and it aired today.⁠

May we each use our voice and the power we have to speak up, to vote, and to act on behalf of what’s right. This is my small contribution to that end. ⁠

▶️ “Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed,” said the Republican president prior to resigning under the threat of impeachment.⁠

No, that’s not a prediction of the near future; it’s actually a memory of the not-so-distant past when Richard Nixon announced to the nation that he was signing the Endangered Species Act.⁠

Since then, this law has played a significant role in the recovery of hundreds of endangered and threatened animals, plants, and habitats.⁠

Before this landmark legislation, due to poisons and pesticides, only 400 breeding pairs of bald eagles were known to live in the lower 48 states. Today, it’s 30 times that.⁠

At the time, hunters and ranchers had successfully dwindled the grey wolf population to just a few hundred; today, albeit still threatened, they number more than 5,000.⁠

Before their protection under the Endangered Species Act, only 200 American crocodiles remained. Today there are more than 2,000 individuals.⁠

But now their days—and those of hundreds of other species—are numbered.⁠

This week, the Trump administration announced it will take steps to roll back our country’s most effective conservation law that could pave the way for development, drilling, and mining in regions where protected species live.⁠

Itself an endangered species, the Republican Party once laid claim to a strong tradition of environmental stewardship, but that tradition has gone the way of the Dodo. The party of Trump has ceded its commitment to country, compassion, and conservation in favor of power, politics, and populism. Instrumental in the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the creation of national parks and forests, the Grand Old Party’s devotion to compassionate conservatism is all but extinct.

While one administration’s policies can be overturned by the one that follows, some consequences are simply irreversible.

Extinction is permanent.

When deciding who should represent our American values in our various branches of government, may our national bird serve as both a reminder of what we accomplished in the past and a warning of what we could lose in the future.

With a Perspective, I’m Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

Laws for Animals: Effective Political Activism

I believe that shifting the way we talk about, think about, and behave towards other animals will impact them positively in the long term. But I also believe that as people who care about animals, we need to be politically engaged, because it’s not enough to change hearts and minds; we also have to change laws in order to protect animals from violence and exploitation. If you’re looking to become empowered and emboldened to be a voice for animals, this is the episode for you.

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Are You Writing the Future for Animals?

I recently returned from a dream trip to Rwanda seeing mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, and chimpanzees — all of whom are threatened due to human activity. But still I have hope.

Afterwards, we saw lions, giraffes, impalas, warthogs, ostriches, hippos, zebras, and elephants in Botswana, a country that banned trophy hunting but is still dealing with poaching. But still I have hope. In fact, we were in Botswana when we heard the news that China is banning the legal trade in ivory, which is a thing to celebrate although the work is not done. It never is.

Even as I stood awe-struck looking at the animals characterized as “exotic,” I thought of the animals in my Oakland backyard—the ones considered mundane—the deer, the squirrels, the foxes, opossums, raccoons, skunks, crows, and jays. Rather than pay to view them, people pay to eradicate them, but nonetheless, they’re valuable to me, to themselves, to the entire ecosystem.

I thought of our state’s coyotes, mountain lions, and wolves—all of whom are demonized by private ranchers who use public land to graze their livestock, then blame the predators for being who they are.

I thought of our nation’s animals, who will be negatively impacted if the current administration makes good on its promises to support fossil fuels, curtail plans to cut carbon emissions, withdraw from the Paris Agreement, construct oil pipelines, dismantle the Endangered Species Act, and build a wall that will impact the lives and migratory habits of native species.

And still I have hope. While I daily urge our federal congresswomen and congressmen to pass legislation that protects animals and reject legislation that harms them, we have much work to do on a state and local level, both of which can get neglected when our fears are focused on an animal-, environment-, and human-hostile White House.

I have hope because possibility dwells in uncertainty. The darkness that lies before us is not inevitably bleak; it’s just unwritten. And we are its authors. We have a future to write—for the animals near and the animals far. For the human and the non-human animals. And I intend to write it.

Will you join me?

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