WHAT DOES THE AUDUBON SOCIETY EXPECT OBAMA TO DO?
The National 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."
The NAS 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?
One thing 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.
Flicker 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.
The NAS 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 problem.
The organization 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.
Finally, 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.