The Trump Administration just tore a hole through the Endangered Species Act

UPDATE 8/12/19:

More than 1,600 species are protected by the federal government's Endangered Species Act. Now, thanks to new changes from the Secretary of Interior, the Trump White House is literally putting a price tag on which species to protect and which could see their fate's permanently sealed in order to protect the bottom line of corporate interests.

The Trump Administration has been trying to gut the act for months. The latest changes have been blasted as disastrous by a number of governors, environmental groups and Democrats in Congress.

After all, as the Associated Press notes, this is the same act that helped to save the Bald Eagle, literally the creature chosen to represent America as a living symbol.

"As we have seen time and time again, no environmental protection - no matter how effective or popular - is safe from this administration," said Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).

The original story begins below.


If you care about saving the environment, November 2018 can't come fast enough.

Republicans in Congress are moving fast to reverse and alter portions of the Endangered Species Act, which has helped bring several species back from the brink of extinction for nearly 45 years.

Weakening the act is bad for the environment and bad for people. At least 10 animals, including America's iconic bald eagle, could have gone extinct without it.


So why would anyone attack it?

Lobbyists for the oil and gas industries, the timber industry, and other private interests are pushing Republicans in Congress to roll back parts of the act before the November midterms because they know if Democrats take back control of the House, they are unlikely to vote to scale back these very basic, popular protections.

"It's all about the midterms," said Andrew Rosenberg of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "[Republicans] have what might be a unique opportunity to get things through that could never get political support in a more balanced Congress."

Protecting endangered species didn't used to be a political debate.

"Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed," said one liberal icon about the importance of the Endangered Species Act.

Just kidding. Those are the words of Republican Richard Nixon, who signed the act into law when he was president.

Nixon wasn't an exception. Basic environmental protections used to be a bipartisan issue and polls continue to show that support for the act remains incredibly high, oftentimes 80% or more.

Ultimately, the only real institutional support for rolling back these protections is from limited business interests who would see short-term profits at what critics say would be substantial costs to endangered species and the environment.

Needless to say, people aren't happy about it.

The clock is ticking. Here's how you can help.

The lobbyists pushing Republicans to roll back these protections know that they only have a short window of time.

Contact your member of Congress. Register to vote. Donate to causes you believe in.

But in this case, it may all come down to pressuring one person: John McCain. McCain is normally a voice of reason in the Republican Party on environmental issues.

Contacting McCain's office and urging him to vote against any rollbacks might be the last defense in stopping changes from reaching President Donald Trump's desk. And that's something McCain has reportedly shown a past willingness to do.

Protecting our most vulnerable species doesn't have to be a partisan issue. It's about standing up for our own best interests, which is something just about everyone should be able to agree on.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less