On this Earth Day, I want to take a moment to reflect on the importance of this day and the urgent need for action to protect nature. As we navigate the complexities of the modern world, one undeniable truth must be acknowledged: our planet is clearly in trouble. Some may contest this fact, but it is clear that climate change, biodiversity loss and other environmental issues are threatening the very foundation of our existence. The need to address these challenges is more urgent than ever.
This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest In Our Planet,” and at Defenders of Wildlife, we are committed to investing in the conservation of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. This goes far beyond just one day a year for us. Every day we call on individuals, coalitions and communities to join the cause and invest in safeguarding our planet’s biodiversity and ensuring a thriving future for wildlife and their habitat. Taking care of our planet requires all of us, so future generations won’t inherit a far different world from the one we live in today. We can’t let that happen. The good news is there are ways we can invest in our planet right now that, over time, can lead to positive change for both people and wildlife. Here are a few ways Defenders of Wildlife is working to invest in our planet:
Biodiversity plays a crucial role in supporting ecosystems, such as pollination, soil fertility and water purification, which are essential for human survival. While up to a million species could face extinction within decades, it is not too late to take action. Defenders of Wildlife has called on the Biden administration to develop a national biodiversity strategy that identifies and prioritizes ways to protect and preserve species, habitats, ecosystems and genetic diversity. We need a comprehensive approach involving all levels of expertise and enforceable accountability through laws and policies that guide a biodiversity strategy. We won’t give up until a plan is in place and implementation is underway.
As we work together to confront the biodiversity crisis the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is more important than ever. For 50 years now, Defenders has been committed to protecting and strengthening the ESA, the nation’s strongest and most visionary law aimed at conserving and recovering imperiled species and their habitat. Defenders develops new ways to make the ESA more effective, advocates to protect and increase federal funding, opposes all legislative attacks that would weaken it and makes sure that those responsible for implementing it are held accountable when they fail to enforce the law.
Mitigating Climate Change
The burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and industrial activities have resulted in a rapid increase in greenhouse gas emissions, leading to rising global temperatures, extreme weather events and other harmful impacts. Investing in renewable energy, promoting sustainable practices and transitioning to a low-carbon economy are crucial steps to mitigate climate change and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. For years, Defenders has urged the federal government to adopt responsible development principles in planning, designing and managing renewable energy projects on land and at sea that avoid, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts to wildlife at risk of extinction and their habitats. We’ve also been unafraid to call out the Biden administration when decisions to drill for oil and gas threaten wildlife and local communities. When it comes to damaging ventures like the Willow Project, Defenders remains undeterred in our fight against such harmful decisions.
Ensuring Clean Air and Water
Clean air and water are fundamental to environmental and human health and well-being. However, pollution from industrial activities, agriculture and waste disposal has contaminated our air and water sources, leading to health problems such as respiratory diseases, waterborne illnesses and other health issues. Supporting and defending laws and policies that reduce pollution, promote sustainable agriculture and protect water resources is essential to ensure that future generations have access to clean air and water. Our legal team at Defenders, together with our partners, work hard to protect the nation’s bedrock environmental laws and we will continue to make sure companies continue to go through a rigorous approval process before they can mine, develop, drill or pave over nature.
Developing environmentally responsible practices can create new job opportunities, stimulate economic growth and foster a more sustainable and resilient economy. By investing in clean technologies and green infrastructure, we can build a more sustainable and prosperous future for generations to come. Defenders of Wildlife’s Center for Conservation Innovation focuses on improving wildlife conservation using a unique combination of science, technology and policy. We are pioneering innovative, pragmatic solutions to create the next generation of pro-wildlife policies and practices— all of which foster the innovation we need to care for our planet.
Investing in our planet is not just a moral imperative but also a practical necessity for our own survival and well-being. For way too long, we have treated wildlife and other natural resources as if they were inexhaustible. Our account with nature is now overdrawn. Let’s be courageous, decisive and unwavering in our commitment to protect and preserve our precious natural world. For our own sake, and the sake of wildlife—it is time to pay our outstanding debt.