Time is running out to protect our planet’s biodiversity

On 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 everyone on deck. We must commit to investing in our planet — we cannot 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 towards extinction, the systems that provide us with clean air, abundant food and clean water are under increasing strain. Our elected officials must take deliberate and conscious action to meet these challenges head-on.

We need a plan, a coordinated effort that harnesses the power and resources of the federal government, to preserve the fragile biodiversity and interdependence of our ecosystem. Nature can no longer simply adapt to the rapid changes in our environment, and our entire planet is increasingly under threat. That’s why, on 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 not exaggerated. According to the 2019 report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services written by scientists around the world, as a result of human activities, up to one million species could be lost forever – many within a few decades.

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 its introduction, and 50 members recently called on President Biden to take immediate action. The resolution calls on our government to address the five main drivers of biodiversity loss: the alteration of the land and marine environment, the overexploitation of wildlife and plant species, climate change, pollution and invasive species. Furthermore, it offers several inclusive and collaborative pathways to reverse the loss of nature, especially if we start now

We are truly at a conservation crossroads. We must do better to live lightly on the earth and to coexist with nature. This is a pivotal time for our planet, and the United States has an opportunity to be a world leader in conserving and combating biodiversity loss. Establishing a National Biodiversity Strategy would reinvigorate 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 the clean air, clean water, pollination, food production, and other benefits of our ecosystem that humans depend on.

It’s time for America to lead by example and demonstrate how we can live better in harmony with our environment. We cannot think of a more important roadmap to a sustainable future than a national biodiversity strategy. This will help us prioritize and protect the natural resources essential to human survival.

Now is the time to invest in our planet, before it’s too late. On 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.

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