DOES THE AUDUBON SOCIETY EXPECT OBAMA TO DO?
December 7, 2008
Audubon Society (NAS) has its plan for what the new president of the United
States should do for conservation during the upcoming administration.
As they put it, the election of President-elect Obama and the new Congress
has brought a "conservation opportunity and [a] need for action."
president and CEO is John Flicker. Fittingly enough he has the name of
a bird. The flicker, a type of woodpecker also known as the yellowhammer,
is the state bird of Alabama. I still call them yellowhammers, but the
NAS, which gets pretty bossy about what a particular bird should be called,
has decreed that it shall be the "yellow-shafted flicker" rather
than the "yellowhammer." In any case, the president's name is
Flicker and that's what we should call him. So, what did John Flicker
have to say?
he said was, "Voters in this historic election cast their ballots
not only for change, but for a new era of hope for our environment, and
the people, birds, and other wildlife that depend on it. Washington has
been ignoring critical environmental issues for too long." Some people
who did not vote for the winning ticket may take offense at this statement;
it suggests, indeed it asserts, that we have been operating in a wrong-headed
fashion about environmental matters. If you do take offense, I can only
conclude that you have been part of the problem. Because let's face it,
our regard at the national level for the environment and wildlife has
been abysmal during the past few years.
went on to say the new president and "a more environmentally aware
Congress offer the promise of leadership and fundamental change that could
usher in new protections for America's great natural heritage, and a new
lease on life for species in decline." As most people are aware,
many attempts have been made in the 21st century to dilute, weaken, and
even abolish the Endangered Species Act (ESA). I know of no average citizen
who has ever been hurt by the ESA. Complaints about its enforcement come
from people who plan to make a lot of money by destroying wildlife and
natural resources that belong to all of us. Strengthening the ESA will
be good for the general public and will, in the long run, not hurt our
economy in any way.
identifies some "issues demanding prompt attention," which include
presidential appointments, scientific integrity, global warming and renewable
energy, endangered species conservation, ecosystem restoration, and (no
surprise here) bird and habitat conservation. With regard to the first
of these, the NAS says the new president "should start by appointing
to key environmental positions within his Administration qualified leaders
who will defend our clean air and water, protect habitat and endangered
species, aggressively address global warming, and steward our great natural
heritage for future generations." If you do not think these issues
demand "prompt attention," then either you have not been paying
attention to what's happening to our environment or you are part of the
further states that the "Department of the Interior should systematically
review and reverse decisions made by the past Administration under the
Endangered Species Act that were influenced by political considerations
and not based on sound science." If you think science-based environmental
decisions are not a proper approach for long-term, sustainable societies
then, I say again, you are part of the problem.
the NAS recommends that the new administration and Congress "should
fund significant new restoration projects to improve the status of America's
great natural ecosystems." They mention the Mississippi River, the
Everglades, Long Island Sound, and the Great Lakes. All sound like pretty
good targets to me.
may be a bit heavy-handed when it comes to laying down the law about what
we should call different birds. But the Audubon Society and John Yellowhammer,
I mean Flicker, have set forth some excellent ideas for the new administration
in D.C. In outlining what's best for the country and for 99.9% of us environmentally,
I think they are right on target.
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