Hawaii's Plant Extinction Crisis

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This week's investigative reporting, analysis and environmental news.
The Revelator

No. 23, April 12, 2018

Hello Revelator readers,

Hawaii is often referred to as the "extinction capital of the world," with more unique, threatened species than anywhere else on the planet. In fact, many of Hawaii's rarest plants are down to their last 50 or fewer individuals. That's bad enough, but unfortunately things may get a whole lot worse. President Trump has proposed slashing funding for Hawaii's Plant Extinction Prevention Program, and that could push hundreds of rare plant species into their final days.

The key to saving certain other species is, believe it or not, their poop. Conservation biologist Samuel Wasser has perfected techniques to extract DNA from elephant droppings, as well as from their ivory. That high-tech forensic science has already proven to be incredibly valuable in the fight against elephant poaching, and it could soon be put to use to help other heavily trafficked species like pangolins.

In other news, you've probably heard about the water woes faced by Cape Town, South Africa, which could run out of drinking water at some point this year. Will the American Southwest also face water shortages in 2019?

Finally this week we have our latest op-ed, on the recent desecration of a sacred Western Apache site in Arizona called Oak Flat. This is part of a much bigger picture: governmental failure to protect the broader Oak Flat region from destructive mining.

In case you missed it:

Looking for a good book to read? Check out our list of 14 new environmental books coming out this month covering Cecil the lion, climate change, green living, the history of oppressive oil development and a whole lot more.

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That's it for this week. As always, thanks for reading.

John Platt

John R. Platt
Editor, The Revelator

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