Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Endangered Species Act

From Age of Extinction of species and local cultures and languages

Posted on March 30, 2014

Voyaging Back

From An Age of Extinction, Georg Steller’s sea lion populations have declined by more than 80% because of industrial fishing activities.

Earthjustice legal efforts helped win a court verdict that keeps ESA protections for the species.Sam Edmondson relates this voyage back from an age of extinction

Six long weeks in the summer of 1741 have passed without sight of land.

Signs, yes—but Captain Vitus Bering and the St. Peter’s Russian crew scorn the pleadings of naturalist Georg Steller, who reads seabirds and seaweed like a map.

They are seamen, though their own maps have failed, and Steller is not.


The discovery leads to more discovery as Steller documents numerous plants and animals previously unknown to European science; some of which will bear his name.

The honor is all Steller’s.

Two of his discoveries, including the Steller’s sea cow—a relative of today’s endangered Florida manatee—are now extinct, and one, the Steller sea lion, clings to life.

Like most threatened and endangered species, they are victims of habitat destruction and greed, an ancient pairing that when partnered with industrial development brought about a human-caused age of extinction.

In the centuries since Steller’s journey, humans have been extinguishing species on every continent and in every ocean with awful efficiency, shaking nature’s delicate balance to its core.

In that time, before our very eyes, hundreds of plants, birds, mammals and fish disappeared forever.

But it wasn’t until just a few decades ago that an ethos of preservation finally took hold, leading to what, arguably, is a species’ best friend.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 became law; and Earthjustice, born in that same era, had one of its first real weapons in the fight to restore balance to nature.

This pioneering work began in 1976 with Earthjustice attorney Mike Sherwood and his efforts to protect the endangered Hawaiian palila.

Since then, Earthjustice attorneys have wielded the ESA to great effect—safeguarding hundreds of plant and animal species.

These efforts include one species very close to Steller—his namesake sea lion, which has declined by more than 80 percent because of industrial fishing that annually removes billions of pounds of fish—the food crucial for the mammal’s survival.

Just a few months ago, Earthjustice legal efforts helped win a court verdict that keeps ESA protections for this sea lion.

Earthjustice also is defending that close cousin of the Steller’s sea cow, Florida manatees, an endangered species at death’s door due in large part to sewage, manure and fertilizer runoff that chokes local waters with toxic algae.

Record numbers of these gentle creatures are already dead in 2013.

Manatee. (Liquid Productions LLC)
Palila. (Caleb Slemmons)

Endangered Florida manatees are dying in large part due to pollution caused by sewage, manure and fertilizer runoff.LIQUID PRODUCTIONS LLC

The endangered palila feeds exclusively on seeds of the mamane tree on Mauna Kea. CALEB SLEMMONS

In very sharp contrast, far to the north amid the high plains, valleys and peaks of the Rocky Mountains, are some bold and even fierce beneficiaries of Earthjustice work linked to the Endangered Species Act—none more symbolic than the gray wolf.

The ESA has restored the gray wolf to Yellowstone and, in doing so, restored ecosystem balance lost when the wolf was exterminated in the 1920s.

But be forewarned; while the wolf is safe within Yellowstone, its presence right outside the park, where protections have been lifted in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, is in jeopardy; 550 wolves were killed in the 2012 season.

And following one may be far worse if the federal government decides to remove ESA protections in the rest of the lower 48 states.

Keeping wolves howling and manatees swimming and palilas flying may not be as hard in the future—it could be much harder as the effects of climate change accumulate in our ecosystems.

Wolves Keep Yellowstone in Balance.


Climate scientist James Hansen warned that “if global warming approaches 3°C by the end of the century, it is estimated that 21 to 52 percent of the species on Earth will be committed to extinction.” Climate change driven by fossil fuel burning has emerged as the greatest of all threats to life on our planet.

How do we preserve life in the face of such danger? For Earthjustice, the answer lies in ending our use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil and replacing them with clean energy. But it also involves building resilience to climate change, which means protecting ecosystems so that species within are able to adapt to the changes that are coming.

This is urgent work because some impacts—melting icecaps, hotter temperatures and drought, to name just a few—are already here.

The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet, yielding this ominous development: It’s becoming easier to search for oil.

For years, Earthjustice has litigated to keep oil companies out of the region in part because drilling—not to mention an oil spill—would harm endangered marine mammals such as the bowhead whale, an argument reinforced by the National Marine Fisheries Service.Grizzly bears in Yellowstone. (NPS)

In an ecosystem where all life is interrelated and connected, the decline of one life form can precipitate the decline of another. In other words, as the whitebark pine seeds go, so go the Yellowstone grizzlies, which depend on the seeds as a key food source.


The Arctic isn’t the only ecosystem shaken out of balance by climate change. Back in the northern Rockies, for example, high-altitude whitebark pine forests stand dead due to beetle infestations brought on by warmer winters.

This is bad news for the grizzly bear, whose diet relies on the whitebark pine seed.

Farther west, increasingly dry conditions magnify the damage already wrought by dams and diversions on rivers—which further jeopardizes the survival of important salmon runs.

Through Earthjustice efforts, many of these salmon runs were listed under the ESA in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and continue to be aggressively defended today.

Despite these varied and widespread threats to wildlife and the planet, there’s reason to remain optimistic—Steller’s journey offers a clue why. A short time after discovering Alaska, Captain Bering and the crew are suffering relentlessly from scurvy.

Steller, relying on indigenous wisdom, prescribes fresh water and specific plants to cure them, but the captain dogmatically refuses and dies, along with many of his crew. A few who eventually accept Steller’s learned wisdom survive to tell the tale.

We are in something of a Stellerian moment. Faced with massive loss—brought on by destructive actions that ignore how nature works—we find ourselves needing something better than the broken maps that got us here.

Something like a new ethos that embraces natural balance on a global scale. It doesn’t seem so impossible when we look back at what an ethos change brought about just 40 years ago. 

Written by Sam Edmondson. First published in the Winter 2013 issue of the Earthjustice Quarterly Magazine.

VLADIMIR BURKANOV / NOAA HOW YOU CAN HELP A bill (H.R. 3533 / S. 1731) that could rightly be called the “Extinction Act” has been introduced by anti-environment lawmakers.It would gut the ESA and put imperiled species at greater risk.TAKE ACTION TODAY

Notes and tidbits posted on FB and Twitter. Part 120

Note 1: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains months-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

If it were Not for the Lebanese and Palestinians, Saudi Kingdom would Not be able to show a single evidence that it belonged to the 21st century world community

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 became law to restore balance to nature. This pioneering work began in 1976 with Earthjustice attorney Mike Sherwood and his efforts to protect the endangered Hawaiian palila.

Religion is the worst catastrophe that mankind invented since rulers realized that mankind long for the Absolute and the Eternal.

Religion was invented to efficiently and absolutely control society.

Nothing good ever came out of religion, and the mind of mankind has been dwarfed ever since religion was structured into daily rituals and customs.

1. You have the “normal” and regular faith of people going about their daily rituals in order to fit nicely into a community and blend in and considered normal people who can be trusted to maintain the tradition…

2. You have “The Dog” faith of a person in search of a community, a pack, a gang, and constantly looking around for a leader and a hierarchy to blindly submit to…

3. You have the faith of “The Perpetual Kid” who needs the care and attention of his parents. The older they get, the more bigoted: The substitute parent must be an “All Compassionate God

4. You have the faith of the Artist, a person willing to invest time and energy to beautify religious Temples, Cathedral… with ostentatious and fantastic monuments in order to attract faithful to religious gathering. Artists who sing, compose, and perform for the religious hierarchy. These artists are the preferred Idiots of the clerics.

5. You have the faith of “The Exceptional Penitent” who will never settle but to a compassionate God for forgiveness and absolution. Hidden crimes, real or fictitious, to survive this Valley of Darkness...

6. You have the faith of The Savior who cannot imagine a life without leading, a position in the pack that should lead to establishing a new sect, cult…

7. You have the faith of The Inquisitor who fakes Not to believe in anything, and tacitly doing everything to reach a situation of total belief in a “religion” and feeling in a position of answering any kinds of query and questions

8. You have the faith of The Idiot who long for the supernatural in order to fathom the notion of God and relying on his feeble mind to satisfy his longing

Depuis longtemps, les vivants partent pour mourir ailleurs, et les morts viennent toujours. Mort, vivant, la terre abhor le vide.

La fiction est l’art primordial des humains: l’imagination monsangeuse est la folle du logis.

On se raconte, des vrais et des fausses sentiments et d’occasions. Ecrire c’es prendre des vacances pour nous raffistoller la vie.

Les ecrivains assidus ne meurent jamais prematurement: ce desir urgent pour faire rire les gens de soi-meme et les faire sentir alienes

Japan is hosting the representatives of 193 States that signed the 1992 treaty for preserving biodiversity in Rio de Janeiro’s “Summit Earth”.  It was agreed in that summit in 1992 for protecting 10% of natural spaces in every signatory State in order to diminish the rate of extinction of species.  The Indian economist Pavan Sukhdev estimates that $3 trillion could be saved each year if the rate of deforestation is reduced by half.

The vast Brazil atlantic forest has been reduced to 10% for demographic expansion; many animal species are not able to survive on these remaining patch work virgin spaces.  Reforestation will be financed out of the CO2 credits.

So far, funds allocated to protecting biodiversity have dropped to less than $3.3 billion in 2008 from almost $4 billion in 2007.  However, surface dedicated to sustainable forests has climbed to 4 million square kilometers in 2010 from almost nil in 1995.  Earth lands occupied by protected species has increased to over 25 million square kilometers in 2010 from almost nil in 1970.

Norway has set aside one billion dollars to rehabilitating humid tropical forest in northern Indonesia.  Fractions of that aid will be paid out as the Indonesian government show concrete realizations in preserving the ecosystem.  Indonesia hosts 10% of vegetable species, 17% of reptiles and birds, and 12% of mammal species.

San Diego Zoo is freezing specimen of skin species doomed to extinction so that to reconstitute the species later on using cell stump techniques.

The most promising activities are coming from private enterprises.  The new motto is to prove to people that they can make profit protecting species instead of just forbidding hunting.  For example, the poor and vast country of Namibia (Africa) is generating huge profit from “Hunting Sport” of the well-to-do; Namibia is employing 250,000 citizens protecting wild life population that increased 60% since 1960.

Africa is reaping $200 billion from hunting sport activities that are turning to luxury safaris costing $1,400 per night (excluding all other expenses).  Tourism revenue from visitors to the preserved land of Camp Selinda (Botswana) climbed to $3 billion.  The private South African association African Parks Network is administering national parks in Africa; for example the reserves of PN Garanba (Rep. Dem. Congo) and Ol Pejeta Park in Kenya.

The US and Russia signed a treaty for a project to reserving the strategic lands on both sides of Bering Straight in the arctic.  infrastructure will be developed to encouraging tourism and thus, protecting whales and polar bears.

The Pentagon spends 56 million to preserving the 15 million hectares of virgin lands used in the various military training grounds.  For example, commanders are trained to applying the “Endangered Species Act” in the training centers of Fort Stewart and Townsend Range (Georgia); Eglin in Florida; Island San Clemente and Twenty-Nine Palms in California.

It appears that virgin lands in Africa are ideal for relocating extinguished species living in zoos:  There is no way of measuring the “spiritual value” of intact virgin lands still in existence.  The greatest hope relies on the rich Chinese and Indian investors for protecting natural life in Africa.

It appears that the Nagoya conference was not a success.  No specific regulations were demanded on particular countries and the final resolution paper was delayed for publishing several days.  Only two third of the 200 States sent representative of lower echelons; only five small State Presidents showed up.  If the conference was related to banking or finance you would have witnessed all world Presidents hurrying up to have their photos taken.




December 2022

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