Next week the House votes on a series of bills to roll back the Endangered Species Act of 1973. These are acutely, expertly crafted pieces of legislation. They will absolutely do their trick.
But interestingly if the Senate agrees and Trump signs, the effects will be devastatingly quick in Africa. A new U.S. administration might reverse the reversal fast enough – for example – to save wolves and condors and whooping cranes in America. But elephants, lions in Africa?
If these bills become law – I hate to say it for the first time I ever have – elephants and lions could become extinct, just as rhino have in the wild.
I understand those who think we have too much government, and I do listen to them: There is something mysteriously alluring about American individualism. But isn’t there a limit? Should air traffic control be a private company? Should Wells Fargo have free reign? Is it OK to let individuals decide where to put their trash?
When facts – science – are indisputable, as with climate change and our shrinking biodiversity, should government just get out of the way? Should we presume American individualism will adequately manage American greed and avarice?
And what about Africans and African wildlife and wildernesses? Is that simply none of our business? We made it our business for a half century. We joined first with Kenya to create the worldwide CITES, the World’s Endangered Species Act. We were among the first of 192 nations to sign this treat, thirty years ago, before most of the world was born!
These bills will defund our participation in CITES. We won’t be able to leave the treaty without a Senate vote explicitly to do so, but we will have no resources to participate.
The trade in ivory will recommence. Indiscriminate hunting of lion will begin, again.
Elephant and lion cannot wait for a new American administration. Condors and wolves and whooping cranes will be in grave danger, and twenty years of recovery may need forty years of subsequent rehabilitation, but they are not in near as great a danger as African wildlife.
“My esteemed” colleagues on the other side of the aisle, led by three Texas Congressmen, Louie Gohmert, Michael Burgess and Brian Babin, argue first from a financial point of view, then from an ideological point of view.
Their financial point of view is that there is no cost-benefit to tinkering with nature as it is. In other words, whatever nature’s response is to sulphur dioxides produced by energy creation, or sport tourism’s insatiability to kill wildlife, or Asian’s penchant for using rare animals as medicine, it’s futile for government to try to intervene. We can’t afford to spend enough to make a difference.
Government cannot cost effectively protect nature.
(One irony is that they violate their own argument with a tenant of bill HR2603 that mandates additional funds to reexamine existing EPA findings as justification for then reversing them.)
Their ideological point of view is intractable. Government is not supposed to trump personal initiative, no matter how egregious or evil that initiative might be. Only counter initiatives, by good people, are proper.
Nature’s protection is not the purview of government.
The ideology is founded on the notion of god. Religion fuels their beliefs. Only God should protect nature … if He wants to.
I don’t know where we go with this. I know that you should use the links above and sign every petition that you’ll be presented with, and contact your Congresspeople to stop this before it achieves any momentum.
But as to the greater need to enlighten the likes of Texas Congressmen? I don’t know what to do. There is a blinder in religious belief that blocks the simplest science, the clearest analysis. Religion can reverse truth.
So let’s just stop this one onerous move and maybe some day the children of the Texas Congressmen will see the light and not prostrate so blindly before their altars so that they can join the rest of us in saving the world from ourselves.