From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently recommended removing the ivory-billed woodpecker, 21 other animals, and a plant from the endangered species list due to extinction. This isn’t a failure of the Endangered Species Act — the law has prevented the extinction of 99% of the plants and animals under its care. But it only works if the species are protected in time. “We’re at risk of losing hundreds more species because of a lack of urgency,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The Endangered Species Act is the most powerful tool we have to end extinction, but the sad reality is that listing still comes too late for most species.”
In addition to pressuring the Fish and Wildlife Service to reform its process for protecting species, the Center and our allies are urging the Biden administration to triple the budget for endangered species protection. We’re also calling on the United Nations to revise its framework for addressing the biodiversity crisis by acknowledging the role human exploitation plays in species loss and the need to immediately stop human-caused extinctions.
Need some happier news? Check out this roundup of good environmental news stories from The Revelator and read on for the latest on McDonald’s newest greenwashing scheme, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weak climate plan, and tips for simplifying the upcoming holidays.
The newest installment in Center’s newest Endangered Species Mural Project will be unveiled in Del Rio, Texas this weekend. The depiction of Mexican blindcats, catfishes who live deep underground in a watershed that crosses the U.S.-Mexico border, joins more than 20 other murals across the country in celebrating regional biodiversity.
In honor of World Contraception Day Sept. 26, the Center sent 10,000 Endangered Species Condoms to colleges and universities across the country. “The condoms are great back-to-school conversation starters that help students make the connection between human population growth and the wildlife extinction crisis,” said Sarah Baillie, population and sustainability organizer at the Center.
Sarah also wrote an op-ed for Ms. magazine about how access to contraception has empowered many women to choose if and when they want to become parents. It features interviews with women from multiple generations about their choice to be childfree.
Here’s one thing you can do: Watch and share our newest series of Contraception Conversation videos where women share their stories about their decision not to have children.
McDonald’s has rolled out environmental commitments over the past few weeks, including a pledge to phase out plastic Happy Meal toys and a plan to reach “net-zero” emissions by 2050. While its investors may be eager to eat up these promises, they’re nothing more than empty calories. That’s because net-zero commitments aren’t a real climate solution — they’re an accounting trick that fails to adequately address the underlying problems driving the climate crisis. Until the Golden Arches reduces the amount of beef on its menu, everything else is just nibbling around the edges of sustainability.
Read more about why McDonald’s climate commitments will fail as long as it continues to ignore its Big Mac problem.
USDA Climate Plan Falls Short
The USDA recently released its Action Plan for Climate Adaptation and Resilience. The plan acknowledges the link between agriculture and climate policy but fails to address the role of meat production and consumption in the climate crisis. Instead it leans heavily on voluntary carbon markets and increased funding for practices like grazing that aren’t real climate solutions. Senior Food Campaigner Jennifer Molidor writes in The Hill that we can’t continue to ignore environmental disasters to protect the interests of agribusinesses. Read her analysis of USDA’s plan and how the agency can take meaningful action to reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Here’s one thing you can do: If you haven’t already signed our petition, tell your members of Congress to support the Farm System Reform Act.
Learn How to Simplify the Holidays
It may not even be Halloween yet, but some people are already thinking about winter holiday gift giving. More than 3 in 4 Americans wish the holidays were less materialistic, yet between excess packaging, wrapping, decorations, unwanted gifts and other holiday extravagances, Americans generate 23% more tons of waste in December than in other months of the year. Check out our new resources on experiential gift giving and start planning for a holiday that focuses less on stuff and more on joy.
Here’s one thing you can do: Join the Center for a webinar on Tuesday, Nov. 2 from 11 a.m. to noon PT (2 to 3 p.m. ET) that includes tips, tricks and hacks for having a low-waste and less stressful holiday season. Register today.
Empowering Nutritionists to Advocate for Sustainable Food
There’s a new roadmap to guide nutrition professionals through promoting sustainable and equitable practices, created by the team of registered dietitian nutritionists at Food + Planet. Empowering Nutrition Professionals to Advance Sustainable Food Systems identifies strategies nutrition professionals can use to be more inclusive in their day-to-day work and advocate for sustainable dietary guidelines and other food policies.
Here’s one thing you can do: Learn more by listening to The Nutrition Show podcast by registered dietitian nutritionist Mary Purdy, where she features experts on issues such as decolonizing healthcare, eco-friendly diets and more.
Wildlife Spotlight: Tiehm’s Buckwheat
Tiehm’s Buckwheat is a rare species of wildflower that blooms pale yellow for one month a year after late spring rains. Fewer than 16,000 of the plants remain, growing on just 10 acres of soil rich in lithium and boron in the Silver Peak Range of Esmerelda County, Nevada.
Unfortunately, Tiehm’s buckwheat isn’t the only thing that finds this soil valuable — lithium is an important battery component. But it shouldn’t be mined where that mining will drive species extinct. An Australian company had been eyeing the Silver Peak Range for a new mine that would destroy up to 90% of the Tiehm’s buckwheat population. But there’s hope for the little flower’s future: Earlier this month, as a result of litigation by the Center, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposed rule to list Tiehm’s buckwheat under the Endangered Species Act.
Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710
Tucson, AZ 85702