In 2017, the study noted, President Trump enacted two of the largest reductions of federally protected lands, shrinking Bears Ears by 85 percent and Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah by 51 percent. Also in 2017, Congress voted to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and natural gas development.
By removing federal protections, the study said, Trump is opening up these lands to oil and natural gas companies. And while the 2017 reductions are now being argued in federal court, the study said, the government already has plans to downgrade or downsize nine more land and marine national monuments.
The study was conducted by 21 international scientists analyzing 200 years of data about protected areas. The scientists found that vast reduction of federal lands is a relatively recent phenomenon; 90 percent of reductions in U.S. federal lands have occurred since the year 2000.
This is part of a disturbing global trend, where 78 percent of global land reductions have taken place since 2000. The study also found that lands in the Amazon are quickly losing protections as well. And, this all contributes to climate change.
“[Protected lands] play such an important role in mitigating climate change, in serving as a protective habitat for animals and birds,” Rachel Golden Kroner, the lead author on the study, told CNN. And, she told the Grist, “Biodiversity and the web of life on Earth is in trouble. And it’s up to us to do something about it.”
“As human pressures on the biosphere accelerate, it is critical to strengthen—not roll back—conservation efforts,” the study authors concluded.
But, of course, all of this scientific information will gain no ground in this White House, where the president doesn’t even believe climate change exists.