According to the Center for Biological Diversity, it’s not just climate changes that are causing extinctions. Wetland mismanagement is threatening 40,000 vital but small plant and animal species.
A recent studyInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature cited by the centerResearch has shown that 16 percent of all dragon and damselfly species are at risk from extinction due to factors such as pesticide misuse and sewage disposal.
Wetland ecosystems around the world “are disappearing three times faster than forests,” Bruno Oberle, IUCN director general, said in a statement.
“Marshes and other wetlands may seem unproductive and inhospitable to humans, but in fact they provide us with essential services. Oberle stated that they store carbon, provide clean water and food, protect against floods, and offer habitats to one in ten of the world’s known species.
Across the United States, 85 percent of wetlands have already been destroyed by “careless planning” that has led to the extinction of species including Bachmann’s warbler and the ivory-billed woodpecker.
According to CBD, wetland species are at risk of extinction by a thousandfold.
Although not all the species are household names, they are key foundations of local ecosystems and can be lost if they are not present.
According to CBD, a planned increase of sewage discharge into creeks in the vicinity of Columbus could put at risk the populations of rabbitsfoot mussel, a native of Great Lakes and Ohio River drainage basin.
CBD warns that a new dam being built for Little Canoe Creek, Alabama, could wipe out the Canoe Creek Clubshell, an endangered mollusk that relies on clean, pollutant and silt-free drinking water for its survival.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, sewage discharge and dams only one part of the problem. 41 percent worldwide are in danger due to conversion of their habitats to agriculture. a 2019 study in Biological Conservation.
“A rethinking of current agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices, is urgently needed to slow or reverse current trends,” the analysis said.
Ninety percent (96%) of the U.S. streams tested for pesticides or toxic byproducts by scientists were found to have these substances. according to a study this year by the American Chemical Society — with impacts that scientists stressed might be higher by a factor of ten “or more.”
“The pesticide industry has conditioned Americans to believe the fiction that these highly toxic pesticides just magically vanish,” Jess Tyler, a CBD scientist, said in a statementMore information about this research.
The Trump administration weakened many restrictions on pesticide use in 2019, particularly by limiting scrutiny of the effects when rains flush pesticides into waterways — measures that were “antithetical to the plain language and purpose” of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), according to legal filingsFrom ten states attorneys general.
The Biden administration pledged to reverse the Trump-era rollback of environmental protections, and in August passed new measures restricting use of the insecticide paraquat, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
But the current administration has also defended many Trump-era pesticide policies, including an approval of the pesticide malathion that downplayed the number of endangered species it risked wiping out from 1,284 to 78, according to nonprofit news service Investigate Midwest.
Three overlapping bills, meanwhile, aim to confront America’s extinction crisis.
The Extinction Crisis Emergency ActThe bill, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Marie Newman and Jesus Garcia (Ill.), would declare an emergency about wildlife extinctions and direct federal agencies to preserve and protect species.
The Recovering America’s Wildlife ActRep. sponsored this article. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – The omicron threat and Biden’s plan to beat it Dearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized With Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps MORE(D-Mich.), would provide funding to states and tribes in order to prevent populations of endangered species from declining to the point where they require ESA protections.
And the Extinction Prevention Act, co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) would provide specific federal funding to the most-imperiled — but “least charismatic” — species in America, including butterflies, desert fish and freshwater mussels.
These new studies highlight an important point that has implications far beyond wetlands: Climate Change is only one component of a much larger extinction crisis.
Recounting a friend’s paper “about the extinction of Monte Verde golden toad,” University of Arizona researcher Emily Schultz, working on a separate analysis, was left with the following question: “Was this climate or was it invasive chytrid fungal disease that caused massive die-offs in frogs around the world?” For the Monte Verde goldentoad, the bottom line was that it was an interaction of the two. They had reduced the number of pools in which the frogs could be found due to extreme drought. They transmitted the fungus faster because they were more crowded into smaller pools.
The way that climate and non-climate factors stacked on top of each other suggested “that we’re running out of time to save wildlife and ultimately ourselves,” Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at CBD, said in a statement.
“The Biden administration has to muster the political will to move away from dirty fossil fuels, change the toxic ways we produce food, curtail the wildlife trade and halt ongoing loss of habitat. We actually can do these things,” she added.