Congressman Richard Pombo (R-Ca) has successfully steered federal legislation this week through a House committee (26-12 vote) to eviscerate the Endangered Species Act. Critical habitat statues (habitat loss in the number one reason for the accelerating extinction rate) would be gutted.
Pombo is a political pimp, soliciting favors for his taskmasters: agribusiness, livestock, and mining, home building and logging interests. Scan his contributor list for the last few election cycles: these unscrupulous donors want federal and private land virtually free of environmental protection that house wildlife. If I were a Gray wolf or Bald eagle I would want a Pombo prototype in my corner: brass knuckles and all.
Our nation's wildlife needs a voice, an articulate and passionate voice that scorns continued compromise and timidity. Successfully passed, Pombo's blueprint for extinction will doom thousands of species. An opposing voice must resonate from the United States Senate and send Pombo and his pandering pack of political prostitutes reeling.
Who will be that Democratic voice in the Senate? Centrists like Hillary Clinton or Joseph Lieberman? Endangered species cannot depend on these politicians for representation: they are consummate centrists who stand for very little. Ethics twist in the wind as these senators position themselves politically rather than "doing the right thing." Ironically, wildlife doesn' t need some spiritual and new age woo-woo type espousing flowery ecological language. They need a "nuts and bolts" citizen- politician to speak the truth. Pombo and his cohorts don't give a damn about the near future. And they make no apologies as they genuflect at the temple of monetary idols for the few. A Democratic senator must stand mightily and tell Pombo that he is charlatan who knowingly wants to craft the wholesale extinction of thousands of species.
Pombo cannot hide from current statistical data. And that data is sobering. 25% of all mammals and amphibians face imminent extinction. 34% of fish, 20% of reptiles and 11% of bird species could fade away in a matter of decades. Will we knowingly and deliberately stand back and watch the demise of these essential components to our own survival? And what will their extinction serve? Another mall in wetlands, ancient forests savaged for products sold in Wal-Mart or the wholesale butchering of predators to appease the livestock industry?
The public hears again and again the shrill and relentless commentary of folks like Pombo regurgitated by talk radio hosts. "Are bugs more important than people?" In the absence of voices of reason and fact, the public is left with no option but to listen to lies. Inherently, species have the right to exist. Nature's treasure trove guarantees an everlasting supply of food, ecological maintenance, beauty and medicines. Who will stand up in the United States Senate and tell the people of this country the
truth: the Endangered Species Act is good and needs to be strengthened? Who will put together plain and simple language for common people like me? When Pombo goes on the attack and screams people are more important than plants, will a Democratic senator explain to Pombo how a plant saved my good friend from ovarian cancer? Or explain the folly of liquidating wildlife? Pombo and his ilk are
vicious: who will match them in veracity? This is not a game for the faint of heart and soul: Pombo is counting on Democrats to be pragmatic, reasoned and weak: capitulating to the needs of corporate building and development interests. I say take Pombo out: politically and morally.
NASA will release data today about the melting of the Arctic ecosystem. Polar bears may be the first documented victims of climate change as Pombo's colleagues rationalize the unhinging of this planet's checks and balances that ensure habitability for humans. In the next weeks will C-SPAN be played repeatedly on the world news because a senator took to their lectern and brought sanity and reason to this debate? Take the gloves off Democratic senators. Promise us that our grandchildren won't be destined to read about pandas, whales, orchids and rhinos in sterile textbooks.
One last thing: the jellyfish and the other invertebrates of the world probably would want reconsideration of the title of this piece. For a species that possesses such a complex brain and professes a soul born of "intelligent design" to write the epitaph of thousands of species: must be a creature lower than any invertebrate on this globe.
John F. Borowski is an environmental and marine science teacher in Oregon. His pieces have appeared in the New York Times and Counterpunch. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.