In the 20th century, Republicans and conservatives advocated for conservation. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt said “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
Republican President Richard Nixon, founder of the EPA, said “Our physical nature, our mental health, our culture and institutions, our opportunities for challenge and fulfillment, our very survival — all of these are directly related to and affected by the environment in which we live. They depend upon the continued healthy functioning of the natural systems of the Earth.”
Even Republican President Ronald Reagan, who was not an environmentalist, spoke of the importance of environmental protection. “If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, a panel with members from 132 nations including the United States, issued a report in May. The report was prepared by nearly 150 authors, from 50 nations, working over a three-year period. Representatives of all 132 member nations signed off on the findings.
The report concluded that 1 million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction, with alarming implications for human survival, due to man-made climate change and other human activities. The authors noted that more plants and animals are threatened with extinction now than in any other point in human history. The panel’s chairman noted the “decline in biodiversity is eroding ‘the foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.’” The report found that the natural world is collapsing around us, but also that it’s not too late to make a difference. However, that difference will require more than 100 nations to work together, including the United States.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the 10 warmest years on record have all occurred since 1998, and the four warmest years on record have all occurred since 2014. For people who seem not to trust scientists who are unknown to them, hopefully Bill Nye the Science Guy will be compelling. He recently noted on a TV talk show that climate change is an actual crisis.
Through a combination of intentional disinformation, misinformation, shortsightedness, and mistrust too many people have been lulled into inaction, and worse hostility, toward responding to the climate crisis. We’re decades late to the fight, but not too late to attempt to stem some of the worst effects of climate change. The wolf is at the door. And the future is not ours to squander.
Kirk Becchi lives in Rockingham.