Today, 20 percent of all species are at risk of being wiped out, scientists at a Vatican conference on biodiversity warn, and that number may rise to nearly 50 percent by the end of the century.
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“The living fabric of the world […] is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring,” warned the conference organizers.
Biologists, ecologists, and economists traveled to Rome from around the world for the workshop titled “How to Save the Natural World on Which We Depend,” which begins Monday, to strategize together on how to limit the mass extinction event caused by rampant over-development, climate change, overpopulation, and unsustainable agricultural practices.
“Nothing less than a reordering of our priorities based on a moral revolution can succeed in maintaining the world in such a way as to resemble the conditions we have enjoyed here.”
—Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS)The meeting sharply contrasts with last week’s U.S. Senate hearing on how to “modernize the Endangered Species Act [ESA],” during which Republican politicians vociferously complained about the 1973 law that seeks to protect critically endangered species from extinction, describing it as an encroachment on states’ rights.
During his opening remarks at the Environment and Public Works Committee meeting, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) “declared that the act ‘is not working today,'” wrote the Washington Post, “adding that ‘states, counties, wildlife managers, home builders, construction companies, farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders’ have made that clear in complaints about how it impedes land management plans, housing development and cattle grazing, particularly in western states, such as Wyoming.”
Indeed, earlier this month the Audobon Society explored the paths the Republicans are considering to kill the Act’s clout, which include starving it of funding and dismantling individual species’ protections with new, targeted legislation.
The move to dismantle the ESA accompanies the Trump administration’s many attacks on climate and environmental protections.
Meanwhile, at the Vatican conference inspired by Pope Francis’ 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato Si, experts discussing how to do the very opposite are warning that developed countries’ rampant over-consumption of natural resources are going to not only kill plants and wildlife, but will soon threaten humans’ existence as well.
“The survival of the natural world, and ultimately our survival, depends on our adoption of principles of social justice and sustainability,” wrote the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), which organized the conference.
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