Wednesday, July 25, 2007

From the Chrsitian Science Monitor

Controversy erupts over Endangered Species Act

Congress and the Interior Department investigate whether the Bush administration undermined federal protections.

By Brad Knickerbocker | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More Endangered Species News

Julie MacDonald, who was Bush's appointee over the Fish and Wildlife Service, resigned in May after being accused making decisions that favored industry and were detrimental to endangered species. Eight of these cases are now being reviewed by the Department of the Interior. While over 200 decisions were made during MacDonald's five years with the agency, only those cases which would most likely be overturned.

A New York Times article says that MacDonald "browbeat department biologist and habitat specialists and overruled their recommendations to protect a variety of rare and threatened species." And they say she may have "inappropriately bent the process to fit her political agenda." I am not sure how you can "bend" scientific information about endangered and threatened species, but I'm glad that someone is taking notice now.

This is only a small part of the conflict between science and politics that is taking place in Washington, the article also pointed to issues of oil exploration, timber rights, global warming and public health.

Read the article: U.S. Agency May Reverse 8 Decision on Wildlife

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Endangered Species Act of 1973

I've noticed recently that news about the Endangered Species Act has been popping up in my news feeds. Most notable was the removal of our national bird the Bald Eagle from the endangered species list. The Bald Eagle was close to extinction in 1963 with only 417 documented birds, compared to the 10,000 that are counted today. The Bald Eagle was one of the most publicized and best funded on the endangered species list and is now the success story of the act that was signed into existence in 1973.

But what about other species that are nearing extinction? What kind of attention are they receiving and will we be hearing similar success stories in the future? The answer is most likely no if things continue as they are in the current Bush administration. The current administration has put fewer species on the list than any other administration since 1973. According to a article from Reuters a mere 57 species have been listed since 2001 compared to the 512 species listed during the Clinton administration and 234 species listed during the four year term of our current president's father. They have also removed 15 species from the list.

There is now a waiting list of 279 species waiting for recognition by the Endangered Species Act. At least two species have met their demise during the Bush administration, a rare plant known as the Hawaiian Haha and a fish native to Washington state known as the Lask Sammamish Kokonee according to a report by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The problem doesn't seem to just rest on the head of the Bush Administration. I have read reports about fighting within the ranks of the endangered species staff, as well as problems with litigation from environmental groups including the Center for Biological Diversity. It seems to me there some people just can't manage to get along even for the sake of our nation's endangered species.

It's not all bad news however, even with species waiting to be put on the list, others who have already been identified are starting to thrive. Today the El Segundo blue butterfly is back from the brink of extinction and residing along bluffs on Redondo Beach near Los Angeles. As early as last month these butterflies were only in existence in special preserves, but now are in plain sight for surfers and beach goers to observe. Good news for the butterflies I suppose, bad news for the Haha and Lask Sammamish Kokonee.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

This makes me very angry.

A Washington Post article about FEMA trailers that hurricane victims have been living in for the past two years. I don't understand how government agencies can be so blatantly destructive.
FEMA Knew Of Toxic Gas In Trailers
The Federal Emergency Management Agency since early 2006 has suppressed warnings from its own field workers about health problems experienced by hurricane victims living in government-provided trailers with levels of a toxic chemical 75 times the recommended maximum for U.S. workers, congressional lawmakers said yesterday.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

For the Love of It

I have to admit I have been EXTREMELY lazy the past few weeks. I am not working this summer and am currently staying at my parents house and sleeping in the room I grew up in. Because I admit this is lazy, I wonder if I really should be doing something else with my time. I don't think so. Over the past week or so I've got to see old friends, spend quality time with my niece who will be 12 this summer, and swim in the ocean, something I haven't done in two years. I think this little break from reality has been well worth being labeled as a bum.

Tomorrow I will head to my alma mater in Selinsgrove to the American Arachnological Society meeting at Susquehanna University. Not that this subject interests me terribly, but I'm hoping to see some old friends and Ryan will be doing some valuable networking. Saturday I will spend the day at a family reunion/birthday party for one of my relatives where over 80 people are expected. I will be making a Cous Cous Salad. Could I have done this if I was working? Probably not. I love being a bum... I couldn't ask for anything more. I have a few more camping trips planned, followed by another week in Mississippi, and then I assume I will have to return to the real world of graduate work and employment. But for right now I can take pleasure in the fact that if I woke up tomorrow morning and didn't want to get out of bed I wouldn't have to. But I will beacuse there are things to do and people to see and I will love it all.

I would love to reflect on this all day, or write about my observations of the summer...but really that wouldn't be in character of what this post is all about. Perhaps in a few weeks I will write something meaningful, but for now you will all just have to find something to keep yourself busy... or lay on the couch and read a book which is what I'm about to do right now.