Saturday, February 4, 2017

Which Species are We Really Endangering?

Considering the proposed rollback of The Endangered Species Act, I reached out to my senators here in Indiana.

Senator Todd Young (R) replied:

Dear Mr. Darrall,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Endangered Species Act. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

The Endangered Species Act was enacted in 1973 to protect species at risk of extinction. As of January 2017, there are a total of 2,328 animals and plants listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA.

I recognize the need to ensure the sustainability of our environment and to protect the vast natural wonders that our nation has been blessed with. However, we must be sure to balance those priorities and the need for economic development. Please be assured I will keep your thoughts in mind should any relevant legislation come before the Senate for consideration.

Again, thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to represent you in the United States Senate.

Todd Young
United States Senator

It is exactly as I expected. It's the same tired zero-sum, can't- have-it- both- ways argument we've heard for years. It ignores the growing scientific evidence that overall environmental health and performance relies on an intricately balanced interaction between life and its habitat. 

My open response, which will be forwarded directly to Senators Young and Donnelly:

Dear Senator Young, 

Thank you for your response. I appreciate the time you took to do so. 

I agree there must be a balance between regulation and growth; however, a wholesale rollback of the ESA will eliminate all semblance of balance. 

All forms of life perform valuable services in an ecosystem; plants, animals, even bacteria and funguses in soil, are needed to keep an environment healthy.

Endangered species are valuable not only for their ecological services but are intrinsically valuable by their existance...just as are humans. Without a science-based approach to evaluating projects in sensitive areas, we may not even know what we're losing until it's too late.

As an architect, I've devoted my entire career to reducing the ecological impact of my designs. Good design makes it possible to accommodate human needs while at the same time at least mitigating, and at best reversing, ecological damage and protecting the native non-human inhabitants of a site.

As your constituent, I ask you to work with Senator Donnelly and others to consider the precious non-human life as carefully as you do the human. 

As always, thank you for your time and service.

Mark Darrall, Architect