We mourn the heinous murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, May 25, 2020. We strongly condemn the recent murders in the United States of innocent black people—of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, of Ahmaud Arbery, of Tony McDade. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends. We condemn ALL such murder and the larger violence against black, Indigenous and other people of color that continue unabated in the United States. We applaud our relatives in the United States and around the world who are on the streets protesting against white supremacy and all forms of racial violence, injustice and inequity. “The collapse of politics and governance leaves no other option,” writes influential black scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor in a piece articulating with precision the need for the current uprising.
Even as we struggle with the entangled triple crises—the coronavirus pandemic, severe economic challenges, and the struggle against racism and inequity—we must not overlook the human-caused peril of our nonhuman relatives.
With that in mind, on this World Environment Day, we bring you the second issue of the Species in Peril e-letter, which originates in New Mexico, the traditional homelands of the Indigenous Pueblo, Diné, Apache, and Ute peoples.
Since 1974, World Environment Day has been celebrated every year on June 5. It is one of the biggest annual events on Earth organized by the United Nations to raise awareness about pressing environmental concerns.
“This year, the theme is biodiversity—a concern that is both urgent and existential,” the UN states with an emphasis placed on “theme is biodiversity.” In announcing this year’s theme, the UN organizers invoked the May 2019 UN grim biodiversity assessment that one million animal and plant species are facing extinction and said that “there has never been a more important time to focus on the issue of biodiversity.”
This Species in Peril e-letter begins with an announcement. During Fall 2020, the Species in Peril project at the University of New Mexico will host a Biodiversity Webinar Series with United States Senator Tom Udall as co-host.
“We are all interconnected, and as we emerge from a global pandemic, we must address the dual nature and climate crises that threaten all of us,” said Senator Udall.
The series will include four webinars, offered monthly starting in September, focused on the following topics: a national biodiversity action plan, highlighting bills sponsored by Sen. Udall; an assessment of threatened species in New Mexico and around the world; Indigenous stewardship and the concept of multispecies justice; and transforming state wildlife management to protect biodiversity.
READ THE UNM BIODIVERSITY WEBINAR SERIES PRESS RELEASE HERE.
This Species in Peril e-letter also includes three original articles, photographs, and two drawings that were created for this e-letter.
On May 20, a super cyclone named Amphan struck the Sundarbans—the largest mangrove forest on Earth—and caused widespread ecological and social devastation in Sundarbans and across south Bangladesh and West Bengal in India.
The first article, focusing on Amphan in Sundarbans, connects tropical cyclones that are increasing in intensity and frequency due to climate breakdown—to the escalating human-caused biological annihilation. The second article addresses the peril of Sundari—the namesake tree of Sundarbans, designated as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The third article highlights the need for assessing the biological crisis and the important work being done by three scientific assessors at the New Mexico BioPark Society focusing on native plants, freshwater fish and pollinator species of New Mexico, Mexico and Central America.
An Unknowable Tragedy
Sundarbans after Cyclone Amphan
By Subhankar Banerjee, Species in Peril, vol. 1 no. 2, June 5, 2020
Drawing by laura c. carlson, the beautifuls, 2020, mixed media on paper
READ THE ARTICLE HERE.
The Last Stand of Sundari
By Ananda Banerjee, Species in Peril, vol. 1 no. 2, June 5, 2020
Photographs by Ananda Banerjee
READ THE ARTICLE HERE.
Assessing the Biological Crisis
By Clayton Meredith, Species in Peril, vol. 1 no. 2, June 5, 2020
Drawing by laura c. carlson, Office of Species Survival, 2020, Graphite and watercolor on paper
READ THE ARTICLE HERE.
Be well, be safe!
Subhankar Banerjee, editor, Species in Peril
Images: laura c carlson, the beautifuls, 2020, mixed media on paper.
laura c carlson, Office of Species Survival, 2020, mixed media on paper.