We rely on wilderness not only to inspire and enjoy but also to protect our watersheds, clean the air we breathe, and provide a home for the diverse species that enrich our world.
NRDC protects wildlife and unspoiled lands from the threats of industrial development, commercial exploitation, pollution, and climate change. We partner with ranchers, farmers, energy companies, and the government to promote solutions that help wild predators coexist with livestock and people. We push for international agreements that shield polar bears, elephants, rhinos, and other animals from being killed for trade. And we fight to keep reckless oil and gas drilling out of wild areas, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Boreal Forest.
99 percent of plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act still exist today.
H.P.: When I was a kid in the first grade growing up in Kansas, we learned "This Land is Your Land." When I go out on the public lands, I always think of that song. Think it's important that all of us take an active interest in making sure that these areas are here for all of us to enjoy.
A.P.: The effort to "review" national monuments that are already in the public lands system, to my mind, is really reprehensible.
R.G.: It's wrong on environmental grounds, it's wrong on social justice grounds, it's wrong because it violates the will of the people.
H.P.: We don't want to make our public lands a partisan issue. It's something that all Americans can enjoy.
A.P.: Presidents add monuments, they don't subtract them.
Tell Interior Secretary Zinke to stop the assault on our national monuments
Former BLM employee Hillerie Patton describes this Nevada landscape as the essence of “This Land is Our Land”—and how preserving wildlife, archaeological sites, and recreation is about quality of life.
Scientists warn that the world is already experiencing the effects of climate change as Trump officially withdraws from the Paris Agreement.
In his first seven months, President Trump has done just about everything imaginable to try to roll back, reduce, and ridicule actions to address climate change.
But reality—for a former reality TV star—bites.
This past week, two major scientific reports have sounded the warning bell with a fire and fury of urgency and facts that climate change is dramatically underway.
An international study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2016 marked the third consecutive year of record-breaking temperatures for the earth—the hottest in 137 years of recordkeeping.
Just three days earlier, on August 7, the New York Times published a draft U.S. interagency climate change report showing how dire is the threat of climate change. The report, awaiting approval by the Trump administration, notes, “Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change.”
The question now is, what will Trump do? He once tweeted that climate change was a hoax cooked up by the Chinese. But how much longer can he avoid his duty to protect Americans from the the central environmental threat of our time, climate change?
We should be focused on clean and beautiful air-not expensive and business closing GLOBAL WARMING-a total hoax!
One opportunity for him to show leadership is to address heat-trapping gases called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. On August 8, a divided panel of U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit voted 2 to 1 to toss out a 2015 Environmental Protection Agency ban on certain HFCs. The decision scrambles an array of industries’ plans to transition to climate-friendlier alternatives to HFCs in compliance with approaching deadlines. But it may not be the last word, says David Doniger, director of the Climate & Clean Air program at NRDC.
Trump’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defended the HFC rules in court, so the decision is a loss for the administration as well as for the industries investing in less-damaging chemicals—not to mention the planet. The EPA could step up and continue to defend the HFC rules by seeking a rehearing. “We’re hopeful,” Doniger says, “that EPA will do the sensible thing and fight for this important rule.”
Another Hold on CPP Case
Also on August 8, the court of appeals delayed legal action on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The court issued its second order holding litigation on the case in abeyance for 60 days. NRDC’s Doniger notes some good news in the order: Two judges on the panel wrote a concurrence that helps “underscore EPA’s legal duty to act on climate,” and the court thus far hasn’t given the EPA the indefinite abeyance it asked for.
Tell President Trump to restore America's leadership on climate change
On a more discouraging note, the Trump administration gave unofficial notice to the United Nations on August 4 that the United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change “as soon as it is eligible to.” The notice also specified that President Trump is open to reengaging on more “favorable” terms. While no surprise, NRDC international experts note that “it reinforces how President Trump intends to walk America away from global leadership on climate change and further isolate ourselves from the international community.”
The U.S. cannot submit its formal intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement—the climate pact that virtually the entire world signed on to―until November 4, 2019. And the withdrawal won’t be effective until one year later—the day after the next presidential election.
Tell Trump we won't stop fighting global climate change
Zinke Spares One Monument, but Many More Still Face the Ax
U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced on August 4 that he was sparing Arizona’s Grand Canyon–Parashant National Monument from Trump’s hatchet. Trump signed an executive order earlier this year calling for review of 27 national monuments created since 1996, with an eye to downsizing or eliminating some. Zinke is under an August 24 deadline to finish his review.
This week, NRDC released a comprehensive report showing that Trump’s monuments hit list threatens jobs, local economies, and the national heritage. “These breathtaking places belong to you and me,” says Rhea Suh, NRDC president. “Millions of Americans have urged the government to protect them. They are not mere pieces of real estate the Trump administration can sacrifice to industrial ruin.”
Tell Interior Secretary Zinke to stop the assault on our national monuments
“Secretary Zinke may ride a horse and wear a cowboy hat, but his sage grouse order shows he’s not acting in the best interest of western states or the rest of America,” says Rebecca Riley, senior attorney in NRDC’s Land & Wildlife program. “Secretary Zinke is selling out the sage grouse―and western states―to oil and gas developers.”
NRDC Poll: Americans Love Environment, Clean Energy, and Climate Solutions
Ahead of hard budget battles this fall, NRDC released a national poll on August 10 showing that a strong majority of Americans don’t want cuts to funding for environmental protection.
“This poll has an unmistakable warning,” says NRDC’s Suh. “Americans stand firmly against cutting protections for clean air, water, and lands or jeopardizing clean energy gains. They won’t support infrastructure plans that sell off community assets and reduce federal investment in public transit. And they reject opening public lands to oil and gas development.”
That’s this week’s Real Lowdown. NRDC has prepared a list of other far-ranging threats. And we’re vigilantly reporting on the administration’s assault on the environment through Trump Watch.
Trump Watch: NRDC tracks the Trump administration’s assaults on the environment.
Tomorrow is World Elephant Day, which always makes me reflect on what the past year brought for elephants. As usual, it’s a mix of good and bad. The bottom line: the situation is improving, but not quickly enough.
Here's some of the highlights—both good and bad—from the past year.
Over the past year, several powerful poaching kingpins have been arrested in countries including Mozambique, Congo, and Indonesia.
Countries continue to hold ivory crushes to show the world that they are committed to ending the elephant poaching crisis, with roughly seven occurring over the past year including last week's the crush in Central Park.
The worldwide attention directed towards elephants over the past several years is helping. As CITES Secretary General Jon Scanlon stated: “The momentum generated over the past few years is continuing to translate into deeper and stronger efforts to fight these crimes on the front line, where it is needed most—from the rangers in the field, to police and customs at ports of entry and exit and across illicit markets.”
Elephants populations continue to decline. Indeed, the Great Elephant Census found that African savannah elephants declined by over 30% between 2007-2014.
Poaching is still rampant. A study published in PNAS last fall shows that illegal ivory is coming from recently-killed elephants--not old stockpiles. And the CITES MIKE Monitoring Program found that “estimated poaching rates overall remain higher than the normal growth rate of elephant populations” meaning the elephant population will likely continue to decline.
Even if poaching stopped now, it would take a LONG time for elephants to recover. As shown here, since forest elephants are one the slowest reproducing mammals in the world, it will take almost a century for them to return to pre-2002 levels.
Not only do some countries still maintain ivory stockpiles, but we don’t even know how much they have due to their failure to report this information. Not knowing how much is out there (and not being able to test it) makes it
President Trump’s support for elephants is questionable. He’s unlikely to approve the current petition to uplist African elephants from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act and could undo some of the elephant protections President Obama implemented (tell him to maintain such protections here!). And the Republican Congress is no fan of pro-elephant policies either (see, e.g., this bill). This means we are going to have to fight tooth and nail to defend our nation’s ivory ban and other elephant safeguards.