Pika. Photo by William C. Gladish.
On a recent vacation in California, my family and I decided to venture over to the San Diego Zoo. It was a beautiful day and I was raring to get in and learn about all the fascinating creatures. Just inside the entrance of the zoo was a display illustrating the recently extinct species. A sobering feeling came over me as I looked over the list. These species were gone forever…and that was it. I wondered how many more species will disappear on our warming planet before my children and future generations have the opportunity to appreciate them and the important roles they play in our planet’s ecosystems.
Luckily, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is in place to protect listed species from extinction; however, it too is at risk.
For over three decades, the ESA has helped defend critical habitats for more than a thousand at-risk species. The bald eagle, grizzly bear and gray wolf may still be seen in the wild today due to the safeguards established by this important Act. However, at a time when global warming threatens the mass-extinction of as much as 30 percent of species alive today, the Bush administration is trying to hurry through new rules that would undermine the ESA.
These new rules would change the Act to ensure the potential effects of global warming will rarely, if ever, be considered in decision-making processes. Specifically, the new rules would allow federal agencies to make land management decisions or take other actions without consulting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service about the impacts their actions might have on a particular species – a move that would change the purpose for which the Act was initially intended – to protect endangered species.