July 30, 2018

Trump wants to further endanger endangered species

Scientific American

The Trump administration wants to loosen protections for endangered species while scientists brace for mass die-offs to accelerate globally.

New research from the Zoological Society of London suggests climate change is driving more species toward extinction, especially birds. Meanwhile, scientists are trying to design the best way to pick which species get scarce conservation resources—and which will be allowed to disappear.

“We are in the middle of a mass extinction,” said Will Pearse, a Utah State University professor and member of the international team of scientists who analyzed how to maintain biodiversity as rare species die faster than biologists can study them. The results were published yesterday in the journal Nature Communications.

“So many things are going extinct and we’re losing so much value for humans, we are having to triage ... to save as much as we can in an efficient way,” Pearse said.

The ongoing mass extinction is the sixth in Earth’s history, putting it in the same league as the end of the dinosaurs. According to conservative estimates published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in July last year, about 200 vertebrate species have gone extinct in the last century—up to 100 times faster than the natural rate. That doesn’t count the species that likely died out before human discovery.

Human land use remains one of the biggest drivers of population declines, and that’s where the Trump administration is proposing some of the biggest changes to the Endangered Species Act.

The Interior Department under Trump is rolling out a regulatory overhaul that could cut the areas designated as critical habitat, make it harder to list an animal as threatened, open the possibility of including cost-benefit analysis in listing decisions, and relax prohibitions on disturbing or killing threatened species.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where I lived some years ago, I, as did others, tried to do my tiny best to keep bird populations up by feeding them. But I was threatened with eviction for doing so: the lives of the birds were less important to the owners than the small expense of cleaning up their poop once or twice a year.