The wild places we love and need are under siege from oil drilling, overfishing and other threats. That's why we want to set a national target of protecting 30 percent of our land and 30 percent of our ocean by 2030.
Every minute, America is losing two football fields worth of forest, meadow, grassland, desert, beachfront, riverside or wetland. Today, just 13 percent of oceans worldwide can be classified as "wilderness" relatively unaffected by human activity.
This continuous loss of nature diminishes not only the richness of our natural world, but also of our own lives and that of our children’s future.
We have a better vision. We want more mountaintops where we can see nothing but forest below, more rivers that flow wild and free, more shoreline where all we can hear are waves. We want abundant wildlife in our world, from butterflies floating by to coyotes howling at night to whale tails breaching the surface just visible from shore.
It’s not too late. Protecting 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030 is an ambitious, but attainable goal, if we start now and take it step by step.
We live in a world of incredible material abundance, but we’re running short on nature.
We want more places where we can hike, bike and jog among trees and wildflowers. We want more mountaintops where we can see nothing but forest below, more rivers that flow wild and free, more shoreline where all we can hear are waves. We want more wildlife in our world, from the grizzly on the ridgeline to the butterfly in our backyard, from the wolf in the forest to the sea otters bobbing in the waves off the coast. We want and need more, to paraphrase Emerson, of a world so beautiful that we “can hardly believe it exists.”
For centuries, we sacrificed nature in our lives for the sake of economic progress. But that’s not a world we have to live in anymore. Nor is it the future our children deserve — especially when we’re called upon to accept less nature in our lives just so we can produce and consume more stuff we don’t need.
Sacrificing nature comes at too steep a cost. America is losing two football field’s worth of land and water every minute. There are 3 billion fewer birds in North America than there were in 1970. There are so many — too many to name — iconic animals native to America that are now endangered or threatened. There’s the North Atlantic right whale, sperm whale, humpback whale and fin whale. The sea otter, ringed seal, Steller sea lion, the manatee and the loggerhead turtle. On land, there’s the polar bear and grizzly bear, the gray wolf, the Florida panther, the ocelot and the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.
We’ve sacrificed enough nature in our lives. Fortunately, we live in the country that created the world’s first national parks. At our best, we as a people have acted out of a deep desire to protect the places we love, both those that are close to home as well as those that define our country, from the Grand Canyon to the Great Lakes, from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters.
That’s why Environment Missouri is working to reverse trends that point us in the wrong direction. We are working to protect 30 percent of our little stretch of the planet by 2030, and half of it by 2050. We’re doing it by:
- Expanding protections of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, home to manatees, sea turtles, dolphins and the only barrier reef off the coast of the continental United States.
- Expanding Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuaries to protect more coral habitats off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana.
- Creating a Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary to ensure some of the last parts of California’s coast are protected from offshore drilling and to preserve habitat that is important to iconic marine species, including the California sea otter.
- Using funds from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase and protect new lands. We helped permanently renew LWCF in 2019 and to fully, permanently fund it in 2020.
- Restoring protections for three national monuments that the Trump administration shrank (Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments) or weakened (Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument).
- Expanding conservation protections in our national forests.
- Adding new wildlife corridors to landscapes across the U.S. to connect habitats and protect species.
- Adopting a concrete goal, via a congressional resolution, of protecting 30 percent of American lands and waters by 2030.
With big visions and pragmatic steps, we can — and must — succeed at reversing all trends to the contrary and protect more nature in the U.S., starting with 30 percent by 2030.