More than 350 state legislators from across the US are urging President Joe Biden to develop a national strategy to protect, restore and safeguard the country’s rich biodiversity for generations to come.
Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver, was among 22 Colorado lawmakers who signed a letter to the White House late last week. He said the more species and habitats are lost, the greater the risks to ecosystems that provide clean water, food and even the air we breathe.
“We’re seeing a massive impact and, frankly, we’re moving towards extinction for a number of different species,” Valdez claimed. “We have to do something about it because in a healthy environment we are part of that bigger picture.”
Scientists estimate that around one million species are threatened with extinction worldwide, a number well above historical norms and largely due to human activities. Climate change, habitat loss, pollution, invasive species and overfishing are considered to be the major ecosystem disturbances.
Robert Dewey, vice president of government relations and foreign affairs at Defenders of Wildlife, said it is critical for the federal government to work with state and local governments to identify strategies to address these root causes. He explained the letter from state legislators is part of a growing chorus urging the president to respond to what he calls a biodiversity crisis.
“In the United States, the National Audubon Society estimates that three billion birds have disappeared since 1970,” Dewey noted. “And just last fall, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced the extinction of 23 more species.”
Valdez supports the Biden administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, which aims to protect 30% of US land and seas by 2030. However, he argued that a broader strategy was needed to address the magnitude of the complex challenges facing the biosphere.
“It’s not a political issue. That’s what we do as humans every day,” Valdez said. “Having the President set aside additional land for conservation is a great thing, but it doesn’t matter if we as humans don’t stop robbing nature at such a high level.”
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