Actor and environmentalist Ian Somerhalder is still sinking his teeth into the issue of species conservation.
Back in July, the “Vampire Diaries” star spoke to Congress about the importance of conservation, and asked for governmental support of H.R. 50, the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Reauthorization Act of 2011, which would reauthorize several conservation acts from the 1990s.
Now he’s continuing his efforts by writing a piece for the Huffington Post, asking which species will become extinct in 2012. This year’s casualty was the Western Black Rhino, and there are many threatened species that could be next.
“Elephants, tigers, rhinos, great apes, and marine turtles are all candidates for this gruesome list, but Congress has the power to stop that. The House of Representatives is currently stalling on a bill that would reauthorize funds to protect all of the aforementioned animals, a bill that has received strong bi-partisan support for over 14 years. This should be an easy choice,” he writes.
Somerhalder argues that passing the bill will not only help protect these threatened animals, but could also help protect the country as well.
“H.R. 50 would conserve the shrinking wildlife habitats in Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America, reduce wildlife-farmer conflict to improve economic fortunes, and stop pelt and ivory poachers. Tigers, Asian elephants and other iconic species live in numerous countries that have significant economic and national security implications for the US. Natural resource conservation efforts in these emerging economies — such as Vietnam, India, and Indonesia — positively impact the financial sector by creating new jobs, providing a means for upward economic mobility, and preventing illegal goods from flooding the markets. Continued support for these economic gains benefits both U.S. trade and U.S. national security,” he continues.
He suggests that species conservation will give the U.S. common ground with other countries, when the governments might not otherwise see eye to eye. By utilizing this common ground to open a dialog with other countries, the U.S. might even be taking steps to protect national security and gain new allies.
Somerhalder also points out that protecting these threatened species is a positive financial investment.
“For every dollar spent by the U.S. government for these conservation funds between 2006 and 2010, the program raised two dollars in matching funds from private or international donors, making this a very sound investment of taxpayer dollars. Even eliminating the program altogether would only save $19 million over the next ten years: a mere drop in the bucket compared to our national debt of $15 trillion.”
For more on his suggestions, including additional financial impacts and the domino effect of the food chain, head on over to his article at the Huffington Post.