Defenders: A Day in the Life - Congressional Testimony

Follow Jacob Malcom, our Center for Conservation Innovation Director, as he prepares and delivers his first Congressional testimony on the recent IPBES Biodiversity Report and the Endangered Species Act for the House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on Waters, Oceans, and Wildlife.

Click to view video transcript Good morning, I'm Jacob Malcom. I'm the Director of the Center for Conservation Innovation at Defenders of Wildlife here in Washington, DC.

Today, I’m going to be testifying to the House Natural Resources Committee Subcommittee on water, oceans, and wildlife on the new Intergovernmental Report on the status of biodiversity and ecosystem services around the world.

You may have heard about this report in the past few weeks and why it’s so important. It shows why biodiversity is essential to human health and well-being.

((Mr. Huffman - Chairman of Subcommittee) Well, good morning and welcome to our panelists. Thank you for joining us to examine the extinction crisis.

We are honored to have such a distinguished panel with us here on the 22nd International Day for Biological Diversity.

Earlier this month, the team of scientists from around the world released a comprehensive report detailing just how many species are at risk of extinction because of human activity.

The numbers are staggering. As many as 1 million species are threatened with extinction. That’s one in every eight species around the world.

The chair now recognizes Dr. Malcom for five minutes.

(John) Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.

I’m excited to be here to speak with you today about this report, which comes at a critical time for wildlife and, of course, for humanity.

We are, as you have heard, losing species faster than ever in human history; ten to hundreds of times faster than the background rate of extinction.

We are in the middle of the sixth mass extinction, where the last time this happened, it was because an asteroid hit the planet. Today we are that asteroid.

So, today’s panel at the hearing included two of the authors of the recent report on the state of biodiversity-ecosystem services, the immediate former chair of the panel, Sir Robert Watson,

and then two minority witnesses, both of whom are climate change deniers: one of whom believes that more CO2 is actually the best thing that can possibly happen to the planet. The other believes that the UN is trying to conspire and take away everything. So, it was an interesting hearing.

(Mr. Beyer - Member of Subcommittee) Most of the time, my Republican friends take issue with the fact that ESA doesn’t take into economic considerations into the listing of the species, for example, the effect on the average American family.

But, the report outlines that there are potential tremendous economic risks when we lose species. Can you comment on the economic payoff of protecting species versus the burden of complying with ESA regulations?

(John) I can speak to the fact, that we have now 40 some-odd years showing that the Endangered Species Act worked incredibly well, and as we all know the American economy has continued to grow throughout that entire time.

(Mr. Huffman) That brings us to the close of the hearing. I do want to thank all the witnesses for the valuable testimony, and the members for their thoughtful questions. This committee stands adjourned. Thank you.

(John) I think that the hearing went well. So, today wasn’t an average day for me. This was the first time I had testified before Congress. I hope it’s not my last because it was really exciting, and it was really exciting to represent Defenders and show Defenders leadership in this field.

Most days, I lead the Center for Conservation Innovation at Defenders of Wildlife, where we work on integrating science, technology, and policy to find creative and pragmatic solutions to conservation challenges.

Today’s hearing was held by our elected representatives. They’re the ones who make big decisions that affect biodiversity wildlife across the country, and ultimately around the world.

The most important thing that you can do is to get out and vote, and for your vote to follow your values, our values, and our beliefs in the need to protect wildlife.

Jacob Malcom

As Director in the Center for Conservation Innovation at Defenders, Jacob leads CCI’s work at the intersection of science, technology, and policy to improve conservation outcomes, especially for threatened and endangered species.