Weakening the Endangered Species Act could harm humans, too
On August 12th, the Trump Administration issued crucial changes to the Endangered Species Act, which — if implemented next month — will affect both people and wildlife. Critics of the new measures, announced by the Fish and Wildlife Service, say the changes weaken protections for many species, and potentially open up huge areas of land for oil development, even as carbon dioxide emissions continue to heat the planet.
The Endangered Species Act was created in 1973 under President Nixon with bipartisan support to help conserve wildlife at risk of extinction because of human activity. Since then, it's been credited with preventing the eradication of 99 percent of the 1,650 species it has guarded. The latest changes to the law place many species' survival at risk, conservationists contend.
"The law is extremely successful and has helped in the recovery of species like the bald eagle over the last 40 years. And so we should allow it to work instead of crippling it," Kirin Kennedy, deputy legislative director for public lands and wildlife protection at Sierra Club, told The Verge.
“该法案十分成功，过去40年来已帮助秃鹰等物种重建家园。我们应继续支持该法案，而非对其进行削弱，”塞拉俱乐部公共土地和野生动植物保护所副主任麒麟·肯尼迪（Kirin Kennedy）对The Verge杂志说道。
The changes make it harder to argue that climate change poses a risk to a species' survival, which is particularly alarming given a recent United Nations report that found that up to a million species face extinction thanks to human activity including burning fossil fuels. Another change weakens protections for species listed as threatened — the step below endangered — in the future. Currently, all threatened species have most of the same protections as endangered species under the law. But soon, protections for each threatened species listed in the future could instead be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
But there are also ramifications for humans and the planet if the Endangered Species Act is weakened. By making it easier to kick species off the list of officially endangered and threatened wildlife, land that was once off limits is likely to become fair game for digging up more fossil fuels that contribute to pollution and climate change.