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Time is running out to protect our planet’s biodiversity

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This Earth Day we face a harsh reality: We are running out of time. 

Our planet is in the midst of a biodiversity crisis. We could be facing our last chance to change the course of action for our planet, and we need all hands on deck. We must commit to investing in our planet — we can’t afford not to. 

The documented rate of biodiversity loss is having a profound impact on the fragile web of life on our planet. As different species are pushed toward extinction, the systems that provide us with clear air, abundant food and clean water are becoming increasingly stressed. Our elected officials must take deliberate and conscious action to meet these challenges head-on.

We need a plan, a coordinated effort that marshals the power and resources of the federal government, to preserve the fragile biodiversity and interconnectedness of our ecosystem. Nature can no longer just adapt to the rapid changes in our environment, and our entire planet is increasingly at risk. That is why, this Earth Day, our call for the Biden administration to develop a national biodiversity strategy is so urgent.

The threat of another great extinction is no exaggeration. Due to human activities, up to a million species could be lost forever — many within decades — according to the 2019 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services report authored by scientists worldwide.  

House Resolution 69, a bipartisan resolution that calls for the creation of a national biodiversity strategy, continues to attract co-sponsors even a year after being introduced, and 50 members recently asked President Biden to take immediate action. The resolution calls for our government to address the five main drivers of biodiversity loss: alteration of the terrestrial and marine environment, overexploitation of wildlife and plant species, climate change, pollution and invasive species. Furthermore, it offers several inclusive and collaborative pathways to reverse nature loss, especially if we start now  

We are truly at a conservation crossroad. We must do better to live lightly on the land and to coexist with nature. This is a pivotal moment for our planet, and the United States has an opportunity to be a global leader in conservation and combating biodiversity loss. Establishing a national biodiversity strategy would jumpstart our efforts to protect and preserve all species, habitats, ecosystems and genetic diversity on the planet and give us a sustainable path forward. Protecting wildlife and habitats is the first step to more effectively safeguarding clean air, pure water, pollination, food production and other benefits of our ecosystem on which humans depend.

It is time for America to lead — to demonstrate how we can best live in harmony with our environment. We cannot think of a more important roadmap toward a sustainable future than a national biodiversity strategy. It will help us prioritize and safeguard the natural resources that are critical to humanity’s survival.

The time is now to invest in our planet, before it’s too late. This Earth Day, we urge President Biden to make this commitment to our nation, our planet and our future.  

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Jamie Rappaport Clark is president and CEO of the non-profit conservation organization Defenders of Wildlife.

Tags Biden Biodiversity Climate change Conservation Earth Day Extinction Joe Neguse

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