We must apply much more effort to conservation if we want to keep the benefits we derive from natural ecosystems. We need leaders that can promote activities that improve living conditions and guarantee long-term benefits from nature.
Children playing outdoors.
Political platforms usually emphasize human social and economic equality. The Justice Democrats platform is an example that lays out a set of goals for leaders focused on human society. It includes climate change. Here are the nature-conservation goals I recommend we add to political platforms.
I’ve listed subjects and actions in rough order of priority. I don’t think the first items are more important than the ones that follow. They are first because the emergency conditions we’ve created require that we act on them immediately.
Global warming. Make an immediate switch to renewable energy. This is part of the Justice Democrats platform, but the best statement is in the Our Revolution platform. I’m repeating the item because it deserves emphasis (climate-change*).
Population. Make knowledge and technology for family planning free or inexpensive worldwide (population).
Habitat Loss. Stop ecosystem destruction resulting from these human activities: construction, farming, spreading invasive species, mining, releasing toxic wastes, and water diversion (construction, farming, invasive species, mining, pollution, water).
Sustainability. End fishing, grazing, and logging harvests that take more than natural processes produce (deforestation, desertification, fishing, forestry, hunting, livestock grazing, logging, soil erosion).
Equality. Respect the right of sentient beings to live wild and free according to their natural instincts (animal cruelty, animal rights, sentient beings, wildlife)
Restore. Restore and set aside half the Earth’s lands and seas for wild plants and animals (ecological restoration, half for nature). *Search terms for information and discussions on this website. The most recent search results will appear at the top of the list.
Destroying the land for material that will destroy the air.
Conservationists, land managers, wildlife biologists, and educators will see nothing new here. We have years of observations, research, and experimentation on each of these topics. It is time to start full-scale application of what we’ve learned. For this, we need dedicated leaders that understand the value of watersheds, soils, pollinators, and ecosystems. We need leaders who recognize that we are in the midst of both a climate and an extinction crisis. We need leaders who are convinced that humanity cannot survive without healthy ecosystems.
Conditions are in flux. I would be delighted to have your suggestions and questions. Thanks.
Barn Owl (Tyto alba) Barn Owls are the most widely distributed of all owl species. Photo: Female by Tony Hisgett).
Our political leaders can protect nature or they can let it continue deteriorating. More than ever, it is critical that we use our votes to choose leaders willing to accept responsibility for nature. In this post, I’ve included a few important political resources and a short discussion of leadership.
In last night’s address to the U. S. congress, President Donald Trump did not mention nature conservation. He did not mention global warming, plant and animal extinctions, or general environmental deterioration. The sad truth is that his disregard of these issues is typical of most of our national and local elected leaders.
Like you, I’ve listened to several discussions of Trump’s speech. My favorite for its insight and value was by Bernie Sanders.
Our leaders tend to focus on issues they proclaim as most important to us citizens. They talk about jobs, taxes, health, education, and security, and they sometimes mention personal liberty and foreign affairs. Of course, these are important issues. However, I believe our leaders intentionally avoid mentioning personal honor, social responsibility, and nature conservation because these topics conflict with their personal goals. I think they fear that discussions that might reveal their personal goals would be both embarrassing and lethal for their political careers.
Scientists studying climatology, soils, forests, and wildlife, warn that we humans have created an emergency that we must treat with the same urgency that we would treat an attack by a foreign power. Why would the president, his advisors, and our elected leadership ignore such a warning?
First, I guess that our leaders have not studied natural sciences, and second, I think that the opportunity to use their positions for financial gain quickly overpowers the altruism they might have felt when they decided to enter politics. Some of our leaders, Sanders is a good example, do seek scientific explanations and advice and they do resist the financial temptations. Most do neither. Our elected representatives receive financial incentives directly and indirectly from for-profit businesses that are locked into a profits-first philosophy.
A small proportion of our elected leaders retain their ideals and attempt to meet the responsibilities of government for the people. Their public comments and their votes on legislation clearly show their concern for long-term quality of the natural environment upon which our survival depends. This post helps insure that we have ready access to our elected leaders’ record on environmental issues. The reason is simple: We must not vote for leaders that have low scores on environmental issues. For those leaders, we must seek replacements that promise to include nature in their legislative concerns.
United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. Aerial. The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the Federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall. It is flanked by the Supreme Court (left) and Library of Congress (right). Photo by Carol M. Highsmith.
The League of Conservation Voters website reports how our Senators and Representatives in Washington vote on legislation involving nature. The website presents voting records as scores for each legislators ‘score’ (the percentage of votes for nature legislation). You can sort the ‘All Member of Congress Scores’ table by Senate, House, name, party, district, year score, and lifetime score. There are clear explanations of how nature legislation is chosen and how legislator’s scores are calculated.
Should you join one of the current political movements?
There are political movements that intend to replace our congressional leaders with more altruistic and responsible representatives. Why not join one of them? I looked at three of the leading movements (Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, and Brand New Congress), and concluded that none of them shows much concern for nature.
The Justice Democrats’ platform includes renewable energy as a source of great economic benefit, but it mentions none of the other nature-conservation issues. The Our Revolution platform includes more on climate change, but none of the other issues. The Brand New Congress platform mentions renewable energy as the means for “creating tens of millions of good high-tech jobs and saving people many trillions of dollars – because energy from the wind and sun is much cheaper in the long run.” The platform includes no other nature conservation issues.
I made a brief suggestion to the Justice Democrats for a more nature-inclusive platform statement. The email response assured me that top minds were working on the platform and that I need not be concerned. It’s been a month now, however, and the platform has not changed.
If you watch Bernie Sanders’ video above, you will hear some strong language about climate change. We need to replace many of our politicians with new leaders that have Sanders’ concern for climate change as well as concerns for dwindling wildlife and biodiversity, eroding soils, acidifying oceans, and disappearing forests.
It won’t be easy. We have to watch for and promote candidates that understand nature conservation and that are willing to include it in their political goals. Please let me know when you find a promising candidate. We can recommend them to the existing movements, and we can support their efforts. If we can’t, we will see continuation of the human-caused mass extinction of life on Earth.
GR having to leave Freight Train behind and go to church.
Justice Democrats is almost a mirror image of Our Revolution. They both claim to have staff from Bernie Sanders’ campaign, their platforms are similar, and they want to take back Congress with candidates that will reject corporate funding and so forth. So far, neither exhibits much awareness of Nature Conservation issues beyond Climate Change. There are other groups pursuing similar goals, but so far, these seem the most substantial.
Having two progressive groups with the same goals, competing for the same money, and possibly competing for the same voters is unfortunate. What happens if they both run a candidate for a particular office? Will that split the progressive vote and make a Republican win more likely?
Perhaps I am mistaken in my assessment of these groups. Here are the links; see for yourself. Please point out my mistake.
Justice Democrats Appoint Bernie Sanders Campaigner as Executive Director
Saikat Chakrabarti from the Bernie Sanders campaign is the new Executive Director of Justice Democrats. Meet him and learn more about Just Us structure and goals in this video:
Other members of Bernie’s team are joining Just Us. With plans to take over Congress without corporate money, Justice Democrats are thinking big. They are actively seeking candidates that accept Bernie Sander’s ideals. Go to their website (https://justicedemocrats.com) sign up, and nominate the people you think will work hard to represent the true needs of Americans.
I would also appreciate your comments on my suggested addition to the Just Us platform. I haven’t had a response from the group yet, but it’s early. I am hopeful that when the staff has time, they will fully agree that protecting biodiversity and natural systems is necessary.
This link will take you to Saikat’s profile on LinkedIn.
I agree with the 20 items included in the Justice Democrats platform. My concerns for nature conservation lead me to suggest an addition.
Defend natural systems from damaging uses. The Earth’s reserves of fertile soil, dense forest, fresh water, and wild animals and fish are declining. Overuse driven by commercial exploitation and by simple need is stripping the lands and seas of life. Biodiversity is declining and ecosystems are collapsing. For the benefit of humanity and all other living creatures, we must insist on proper land use. We must insist that national land management agencies in all nations are empowered to monitor, repair, and regulate the use of the land, water, and life without which human life would be impossible.