In Maine’s Acadia National Park, the sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean, a timeless scene reflecting hope for new opportunities to address interconnected environmental and social crises in the new year.
THIS PAST YEAR, MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS of us experienced firsthand what’s at stake if we fail to restore our balance with nature. From devastating hurricanes and heatwaves to wildfires and floods, climate-fueled disasters took an enormous toll measured by lives lost, homes destroyed, businesses buried and communities displaced. We also saw the biodiversity crisis accelerate as more and more species slid toward extinction. In October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially declared 23 North American species extinct, including the iconic ivory-billed woodpecker.
But despite these escalating crises, 2021 also provided reasons for hope. We saw leaders both at home and around the world commit to a new path forward to address the climate crisis, recover imperiled wildlife and begin to redress long- standing environmental and social injustices.
In the United States, President Biden and Congress stepped up to make historic investments in clean energy, natural infrastructure, climate resilience, environmental justice and wildlife recovery. We re-engaged with global leaders on the climate crisis. And a record number of Republicans and Democrats came together to co-sponsor the historic Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which will dedicate $1.4 billion annually to save more than 12,000 species of greatest conservation need. The legislation is primed for passage in 2022. Notably, many of these investments and solutions show a commitment to treat nature as an ally, empower states and Tribes to recover wildlife and enlist all people in the fight to conserve our lands and waters.
The National Wildlife Federation has been at the center of such solutions as well as the negotiations that have transformed ideas into action. In each case, our Federation strived to ensure that discussions and the solutions they inspired were inclusive and equitable. We believe that all people must be included authentically in developing solutions and that individual actions— from planting native milkweed to enacting social change—help both people and wildlife.
Today, finally, we are on the precipice of enacting solutions that match the magnitude of our interconnected climate, biodiversity and environmental justice crises. Last year, we made a substantial down payment, but much more work remains to be done—and will be possible because of your steadfast support and generosity. Thank you for doing your part to help unite all of us to ensure wildlife thrive in our rapidly changing world.
Follow Collin O’Mara on Twitter @Collin_OMara. To share your thoughts and opinions, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.