To say the Endangered Species Act (ESA) brings out the best in people would be an understatement.
On this date forty years ago, the ESA was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. Along with signing the Clean Water Act of 1972 and proposing the Environmental Protection Agency, signing the ESA was probably the best thing Nixon ever did with his presidency and his life.
Truth be told, the environmental oversight achieved during the Nixon years is probably the finest hour the entire human society has had in terms of its relationship with the environment. By responding to serious pollution threats and rapid declines in many species, the environmental movement of the 1970s put in place key standards for how we should act toward the environment.
Both the spirit of the ESA and the act itself will be needed as we move forward to address issues like global warming and other threats to ecosystems and species. We'll have to be at our best once again.