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Fireflies’ glow could soon be extinguished by human actions

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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.

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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.

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.

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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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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump explains why he wants to buy Greenland to reporters: ‘It’s a large real estate deal — a lot can be done’

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President Donald Trump reaffirmed his desire to buy Greenland in discussion with reporters Sunday.

The president was returning to Washington, D.C. when he stopped at the airport in Morristown, New Jersey. New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman asked the president about his desire to buy the country from Denmark.

"Greenland, I don't know. It got released somehow," Trump said of the news about his desire to buy the country. "It's something we talked about. Denmark essentially owns it. We're very good allies with Denmark. We protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world. So the concept came up, and I said, strategically, it's interesting. And we'd be interested. We'll talk to them a little bit. It's not number one on the burner; I can tell you that."

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‘They love the meanest parts of him’: Conservative writer explains why evangelical Christians stick with Trump

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Ben Howe, a conservative writer and evangelical Christian who refuses to support Donald Trump, explained why fellow evangelicals continue to back the president despite his decidedly ungodly behavior.

Speaking with the Atlantic’s Emma Green about his new book The Immoral Majority, Howe — whose evangelical bona fides include attending pastor Jerry Falwell’s church as a kid — described evangelicals’ support for Trump, insisting “they love the meanest parts of him.”

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‘Mental midget’ Stephen Miller absolutely demolished in MSNBC blast at Trump’s ‘misfit’ advisers

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Given the opportunity to discuss two profiles on White House adviser Stephen Miller -- published by the Washington Post and the New York Times late Saturday -- Democratic consultant Don Calloway jumped in with both feet to trash the man he called a "mental midget"."

Asked p on MSNBC about the controversial Miller's outsized influence on Donald Trump, Calloway didn't hold back.

"What goes through your head when you hear how much influence Stephen Miller has on immigration policy?" host Alex Witt asked.

"Stephen Miller is a mental midget, that's the best thing I can say," Calloway began to the sounds of laughter offscreen.

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