May 19, 2020

VIDEO: Udall Kicks Off “Road to 30 Virtual Tour” to Protect 30 Percent of America’s Lands and Water by 2030

Udall and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala discuss the importance of conservation

VIDEO LINK: https://youtu.be/W5TokjE5m5U  

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), along with the Center for Western Priorities and the Sierra Club, kicked off a “Road to 30 Virtual Tour” of states across the West to emphasize the importance of his bold legislation to set a national goal of protecting 30 percent of America’s lands and water by 2030, known as the 30x30 initiative. In the kick-off event, Udall joined Dr. Enric Sala, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and one of the world’s top researchers on ecosystem recovery, and Lena Moffitt, Senior Director of Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign, to discuss the importance of protecting biodiversity in the West’s unique habitats.

According to biologists, nature across the world is collapsing. Global human activity has altered three-quarters of the Earth’s lands, and within the United States, about a football field worth of natural area is converted to human development every 30 seconds. Hundreds of scientists are warning the rapid loss of natural space will result in a mass extinction, exacerbated by climate change. In the face of this crisis, ecologists are urging the conservation of at least 30 percent of the planet’s lands and oceans by 2030 (30×30), a critical step that can protect nature, strengthen communities, and improve public health.

As we face down this pandemic, we must move forward with a clear vision of how we want to emerge from this crisis. What we want our society, our economy, our way of life to look like on the other end. Because in addition to a public health crisis, we also face dual climate and nature crises that threaten life as we know it. And these crises are all interconnected,” said Udall, Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. “The coronavirus pandemic is underscoring just how connected humanity is to the natural world…COVID-19 is what is known as a ‘zoonotic’ disease – transferred from animal to human. And scientists tell us that – if we continue to illegally traffic wildlife and destroy the natural barriers between humans and nature – we will face more and more of these pandemics. The fact is – protecting nature is about protecting humanity. It’s that simple.”

Udall continued, “The extinction of one species has profound ripple effects that can alter economies, global health and security…The nature crisis we are facing is dire. We are losing a football field’s worth of nature every 30 seconds. One million species are at risk of extinction because of human activity…. If we save 30 percent by 2030, we can halt the biodiversity crisis in its tracks. This is an ambitious goal. But here’s the part where I tell you there is hope – because there is. Support for conservation – and for bold action to tackle climate change and the nature crisis – is higher than ever.” 

“This current crisis, as challenging as it is, has underscored just how interconnected we all are. And despite what you may see on cable news, we are capable of uniting behind a common purpose – and acting fast. We need to harness that sense of common purpose – and use that energy to fight the nature crisis that we are facing,” Udall concluded. “We don’t have any time to waste.” 

In a recent Colorado College State of the Rockies Project Conservation in the West Poll, 73 percent of voters in eight Mountain West states favored the 30x30 initiative, with majority support across party lines for the ambitious conservation goal. 

For more details on Udall’s legislation, S.Res.372, the virtual tour and for more information about 30x30, please visit Udall’s website and Roadto30.org.

Udall’s remarks are below: 

Thank you all for joining us. 

It’s nice to see you all, even though it’s through a computer screen.

Today, we’re here to talk about a bold plan to protect the natural world – and to make sure we have a livable planet for future generations.

It’s called the Thirty by Thirty campaign to save nature. And I’m excited to tell you more about it – and, hopefully, to enlist you in the fight to save the planet as we know it. So we can get moving on the Road to 30 – and fast.

Right now, people everywhere are grappling with the health and economic pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s an unprecedented challenge that we are confronting.  

As we face down this pandemic, we must move forward with a clear vision of how we want to emerge from this crisis. What we want our society, our economy, our way of life to look like on the other end. 

Because in addition to a public health crisis, we also face dual climate and nature crises that threaten life as we know it.

And these crises are all interconnected.  

The coronavirus pandemic is underscoring just how connected humanity is to the natural world.

For one: we are all gaining a greater appreciation for nature. For the peace, beauty, economic and life-sustaining benefits nature provides us.

And we are also seeing the dangers that are posed by our increasing destruction of nature.

COVID-19 is what is known as a “zoonotic” disease – transferred from animal to human. And scientists tell us that – if we continue to illegally traffic wildlife and destroy the natural barriers between humans and nature – we will face more and more of these pandemics. 

The fact is – protecting nature is about protecting humanity. It’s that simple.

The extinction of one species has profound ripple effects that can alter economies, global health and security. Imagine a world without bees to pollinate crops. Or fungi to derive new life-saving medicines from. A world where we are left struggling to grow food, earn a living, breathe air, heal diseases and more.

The nature crisis we are facing is dire. We are losing a football field’s worth of nature every 30 seconds. One million species are at risk of extinction because of human activity.

Most people know full well that we are on a collision course with a climate emergency of epic proportions. Fewer people are aware that we also are facing this grave nature crisis – which is directly related to the climate crisis, and which is equally dangerous for our planet and our future. 

Now, there’s no doubt that the Trump administration has drastically worsened all three of these crises – COVID-19, climate change, and the destruction of nature. They have systematically disregarded science, and destroyed our bedrock environmental protections. 

We have to undo the damage that the Trump administration has done to our environment and our planet.

But unfortunately, things were getting bad even before President Trump took office. If we only reverse the damage of the Trump years, it would be like putting a band-aid on a life-threatening wound.

We need to think boldly, and we need to act boldly. Being bold is our only option. 

And that’s what we’re here to talk about today: writing a bold new playbook to save the natural world. It’s what we’re calling “The Road to 30.” 

In the Senate, I’ve introduced the 30 by 30 Resolution to Save Nature. This resolution would set a national goal of protecting 30 percent of the United States’ land and water by 2030, with more protected in the decades following.

That’s what scientists like Dr. Sala tell us is needed -- to save biodiversity, nature, and our way of life as we know it. 

If we save 30 percent by 2030, we can halt the biodiversity crisis in its tracks.

This is an ambitious goal. But here’s the part where I tell you there is hope – because there is. 

Support for conservation – and for bold action to tackle climate change and the nature crisis – is higher than ever. 

People, especially young people, are more energized than ever on these issues. And according to recent polling, wide majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in the West support the 30 by 30 goal.

Now we just need our policymakers to follow the will of the people. We need all of you to keep organizing, keep fighting, keep calling your Senators and Representatives – keep making your voices heard.

This current crisis, as challenging as it is, has underscored just how interconnected we all are. And despite what you may see on cable news, we are capable of uniting behind a common purpose – and acting fast.

We need to harness that sense of common purpose – and use that energy to fight the nature crisis that we are facing.

We need your energy to get us moving down the Road to 30. We don’t have any time to waste.