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Fireflies’ glow could soon be extinguished by human actions

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Fireflies (Shutterstock)

Species’ extinction rates are accelerating on a global scale. We need solutions that match the severity of the problem.

Say goodbye to one of the dreamiest things about childhood. In the Midwest, fireflies are dying off.

For many Americans, it’s hard to imagine summer nights without the magical glow of dozens of bioluminescent bodies fluttering above the grasses and fields, and lighting up the dark skies above.

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But the die-offs aren’t just limited to fireflies — or to the American heartland. As anyone who’s been paying attention to the news this summer knows, species across the globe are taking a nosedive toward extinction. The United Nations report on biodiversity that came out in May is just the latest assessment to warn that the health of our ecosystems is “deteriorating more rapidly than ever.”

Humans are largely to blame. By spraying toxic pesticides, polluting our air and water, degrading the landscape, and emitting ever more carbon, we’ve essentially captured nature in a big glass Mason jar, screwed the lid tight, and neglected to punch holes in the top. According to the UN report, these unsustainable actions are causing nature to decline at unprecedented rates and accelerating the rate of species’ extinction. Around 1 million animal and plant species — more than ever before in human history—are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.

Scientists say that the estimated 2,000 species of fireflies have been declining for years. Losing these glowing creatures, also known as “lightning bugs” in some parts of the U.S., robs future generations of one of the simplest and most pleasurable joys of childhood. It also robs doctors and researchers of a valuable diagnostic tool. By injecting chemicals found in a firefly’s tail into human cells, researchers can detect diseases like cancer and muscular dystrophy.

On a broader scale, losing plant and animal species at an accelerated rate threatens “the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” warn the UN researchers. Up to $577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss alone.

Yet there’s still time—just barely—to turn things around.

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At Earthjustice, our attorneys have fought for decades to protect endangered species big and small from harm. Just recently, we successfully defended against attempts by developers to remove endangered species protections for the California gnatcatcher. This adorable little songbird lives in the rapidly declining sagebrush habitat unique to coastal southern California and northern Baja California, which is also home to many other species.

Of course, we know it’s not enough to address the extinction crisis bird by bird. The UN report recommends a transformative societal shift toward an economic model where we value nature by restoring, conserving, and using it sustainably. That’s why Earthjustice is also tackling the extinction crisis at a broader level.

In the courts, we’re defending core conservation laws like the Endangered Species Act, which has a 99 percent success rate in stopping species’ extinction. On the Hill, we’re supporting bold ideas like the Green New Deal, which lays out a vision for systemic change that matches the scale of the environmental crisis.

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We already have many of the legal and policy tools needed to stop a mass extinction. Now we must push for the political will to open the jar and set loose a just and sustainable future for all.

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2020 Election

Lindsey Graham keeps begging Fox Views viewers for donations: ‘They’re killing me money-wise’

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Embattled Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham went on Fox News multiple times on Thursday to beg their right-wing audience for campaign donations.

Graham started his day on the Fox News show "Fox and Friends" -- where he begged for money.

“My opponent will raise almost $100 million in the state of South Carolina,” said Graham.

“The most money ever spent in the state on a Senate race was by me in 2014 when I spent $13 million. He raised $6 million from the time Justice Ginsburg passed away, within 72 hours and God bless Justice Ginsburg. We’re celebrating her life. I appreciate waiting ’til Saturday to announce her replacement. But I am being killed financially," he admitted. "This money is because they hate my guts.”

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‘Breonna’s Law’ legislator arrested by Louisville police for first-degree rioting: report

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A spokesman for a police union in Louisville announced on Thursday that the only black woman in the Kentucky legislator had been arrested while protesting the lack of charges for the killing of Breonna Taylor by the Louisville Metro Police Department.

"Kentucky State Rep. Attica Scott, author of legislation known as "Breonna’s Law," was arrested with others Thursday evening during protests demanding justice for Breonna Taylor," WDRB-TV reports. "Scott, a Louisville Democrat, was among a group of individuals arrested near the main branch of the Louisville Free Public Library and First Unitarian Church at the intersection of South Fourth and York streets, according to Tracy Dotson, a spokesman for Louisville Corrections Lodge #77 Fraternal Order of Police union. Scott was charged with first-degree rioting and failure to disperse, Dotson said."

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2020 Election

WATCH: Late-night hosts go off on Trump for ‘chilling’ plan ‘to steal the election’

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Late-night television hosts harshly criticized President Donald Trump for refusing to say there would be a peaceful transition of power if he loses the November election.

"In one of the more chilling moments of his presidency -- and they've been a few -- Donald Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power as Republicans formulated the plan to steal the election through the courts," Seth Meyers explained.

"We're as close as we've ever been to losing our democracy and watching our government transform into an autocratic regime," he continued. "It's happen right in front our eyes right now, you don't need to wait for Trump to roll down Pennsylvania Avenue on a tank in green fatigues with a long chin-beard -- especially since if he did try to grow one he'd probably just look like a very sick chihuahua."

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