Back to Nature (Published on - Jan. 10, 2008)
You made a difference
Environmentalists witness a glimmer of hopeful light shining above the horizon.
Have you seen Venus shining bright in the morning sky? Early risers have been fortunate to observe (without the need for telescopes or binoculars) the stunning beauty of Venus shining brilliantly to the east before sunrise.

So stunning is this sight that one can easily imagine another celestial event some two-thousand years ago during the week of the winter solstice that spurred viewers to turn their eyes and attention toward the sky and believe in miracles.

The winter solstice is when the shortest day and the longest night occurs from our point of view on planet earth. If there is any possibility you can unfurl yourself from the cozy security of your soft, warm bed, this spectacle is well worth the effort. With the dawning of a new day, with the dawning of a new year, 2008 may be the dawning of a new era.

You have made a difference in 2007. Environmentalists are witnessing a glimmer of hopeful light shining above the horizon. Environmental Defense press releases over the past year have included alerts on issues of concern, but have readily announced environmental victories of 2007, as well.

1) 2007 may be remembered as the year of the eagle – the American bald eagle to be more precise.

Just before the July 4th holiday, Environmental Defense joined Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne for the historic announcement that the American bald eagle had officially recovered and was being removed from the threatened and endangered species list.

Bald eagles were once down to just 417 nesting pairs. But our work to ban the use of DDT a generation ago combined with decades of implementing Endangered Species Act recovery management practices helped restore America’s national symbol and one of nature’s most majestic creatures.

2) (Washington, Dec. 18, 2007) In a press release from Steve Cochran, Director of Strategic Communications: Environmental Defense today applauded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the passage of legislation that will promote fuel efficiency and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. House passed the final version of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (H.R. 6). The bill won overwhelming support from both parties in an 86-8 vote.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – “The energy bill would require the auto industry to reduce fuel consumption in most cars and light trucks by 40 percent, raising the fuel efficiency standard to 35 miles per gallon (15 kilometers per liter) by 2020.”

The speaker has said the energy bill will lay the groundwork for the Congress to move forward next year with comprehensive action on global warming.

3) States take on global warming: This summer, three states – Hawaii, New Jersey and Florida – joined California to enact tough statewide global warming pollution limits.

Several other states also took action to promote cleaner energy, including North Carolina where Environmental Defense helped pass a landmark energy bill, which includes a renewable energy standard and makes North Carolina one of only a handful of states to include a standard for energy efficiency.

4) Gulf catch program a success for all: Our oceans team made a big splash this year by showing how innovative catch share programs conserve fisheries and improve a fisherman’s bottom line. A precedent-setting catch program for the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico is already producing results. Catch shares dedicate a secure share of fish to fishermen, fishing communities or associations. Amounts are determined before each season begins and fishermen are allowed to buy and sell shares in order to maximize their profit.

5) First interstate marine park created from North Carolina to Florida: Environmental Defense helped design and win approval for the first interstate system of marine parks, stretching from North Carolina to the Florida Keys. The 500,000-acre network comprises eight tracts of stunning deep-water corals that serve as critical habitat for 73 species of grouper, snapper and tilefish.

The new network complements reserves, protecting shallow reef habitat in areas such as Florida’s Dry Tortugas.

Karen can be reached at

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