Florida residents experience the impact of the Endangered Species Act all around them: The sea turtles that nest on local beaches. The manatees that charm visitors to state parks in the winter. The wood storks that have become an increasingly common sight along local roadsides.
These species, and many others, were once considered potentially doomed. But decades of protection have turned things around. Sea-turtle nestings on local beaches have more than doubled from lows in the early 2000s. Florida's manatee counts have topped 6,000 for the last three years -- once, the population was thought to number just a few hundred. The number of wood storks in the southeastern United States was once declining at the rate of 5 percent a year, and scientists grimly predicted the species was headed for extinction. Now pairs of storks are visible throughout Volusia and Flagler counties, wading in roadside ditches and shallow lakes.
These are success stories, but the stories are not finished yet. Every day, birds, plants, fish and animals face competition for the resources they need to survive from the ever-increasing number of people who want to make Florida their home. The federal Endangered Species Act and the state's species-protection programs have nurtured these, and many other species: As The Daytona Beach News-Journal's Dinah Voyles Pulver reported, the state is home to 93 species considered endangered under the federal rules, and another 44 that are threatened.
Endangered species are considered in danger of extinction; the threatened status -- which the manatee was recently elevated to -- includes species that are likely to become endangered in the future.
There's little doubt, however, that the Endangered Species Act has levied a considerable cost for the protections it guarantees. The battles over preservation generally involve creatures that most people agree should be protected. But the history of the Endangered Species Act includes some episodes where the case was not nearly as clear -- such as the controversy over an undeniably endangered Mississippi frog that was "rebranded" as being from Louisiana, leading to a debate as to whether federal officials could designate private property as critical habitat for a species that hadn't been found in that area in more than 50 years, and might not survive there.
The Trump administration says it wants to revamp and streamline the Endangered Species Act, leading to cries of alarm from environmental groups. That pushback is a good thing -- conservation-minded groups should keep a close eye on the proceedings and call foul if endangered-species protections will be legitimately weakened.
At the same time, however, these groups should acknowledge that, after four and half decades, the Endangered Species Act might benefit from an overhaul that whittles unnecessary regulation.
If environmental groups work with federal officials in good faith, they might just produce a law that both sides can agree is an improvement.
We're experiencing one of the hottest summers on record. Are you fit to deal with high heat and humidity? Maybe yes, maybe no.
If you're mindless about your outdoor workouts -- pushing too hard, drinking too little, ignoring warning signals from your body -- you can bring on a case of heat illness.
It's scary and dangerous and can send you to the hospital, where fun goes to die. But the more you know about the signs and symptoms, the better able you will be to prevent or treat it yourself. Time for some learning:
Where is Ekkapol Chantawong when we really need him?... Say what?
Ekkapol Chantawong is the man who taught the young Thai boys trapped in the Tham Luang cave to meditate. It turns out he'd been a Buddhist monk for 10 years before he was the coach for the Wild Boars soccer team. Of course!
Coach Ekkapol knew that if he could get the lost boys to sit calmly, find their center, follow their breath, let go of their fears and stay in the moment, they would have a much better chance of surviving the horrible hellhole of a predicament they were in.
It worked for them, and it can work for you, if you're feeling a little lost these days. Lots of people are. The news is destabilizing; many people feel trapped. That said, I'm not going to harangue you with 25 good reasons for learning to sit quietly.
Instead, I'm shifting to the unsexy topic of heat illness and how to avoid it. Repeat after me: Self-care is the best care.
Considered stage 1 symptoms of heat illness. Typically, you feel severe pain and cramps in your stomach and/or your legs. You may also feel faint, dizzy or weak. Heavy sweating shouldn't surprise you.
When you put it all together, own up to the fact that you are in some trouble. Then slow down, way down, even to the point of complete rest. Massage your cramped muscles or get someone else to do it.
Very important: Replace all your lost body fluids. That means drink, drink, drink. Water is best. If you want to flavor it with a little fruit juice, OK, but all fruit juice, all the time is not smart and way too heavy a load of sugar. Electrolyte replacement is also advised.
It can happen when long exposure to the heat overwhelms you. It can happen on a long run, a bike ride, even the golf course. You feel nauseated, dizzy and weak. You get a headache or feel disoriented. Your skin feels moist and looks pale. These symptoms require immediate attention.
Move or get help moving to a cooler area. Lower your body temperature by splashing or wiping down with some cool water. Lie down (before you fall down), feet propped up, and calm yourself with some deep breathing.
Replace all fluids lost, but don't over-hydrate. If you don't feel better soon -- and certainly if you feel worse -- consider it a serious case of heat illness, and call the paramedics.
It can be a killer. It can happen suddenly, without warning. Signs include a very high body temperature, fast pulse and confusion. Contrary to what you might think, there is a lack of sweating. The skin is hot and dry. You might even lose consciousness.
Before you do, insist that someone call 911, and get to an emergency room. A person having a heat stroke needs to have the body cooled -- with water or ice, especially around the groin, neck and armpits -- as quickly as possible. If the person isn't conscious, don't force him to drink. Monitor breathing closely. If breathing stops, start CPR. If you don't know CPR, sign up for a basic four-hour course. (I do every two years, and in between I pray that I'll never have to use it.)
So in honor of dear coach Ekkapol, meditate on this: Heat illness can be prevented. Use your head, and listen to your body. Exercise in the cooler parts of the day, drink all the fluids you need, and don't ignore signs of trouble. "If you suspect heat stroke, Call 911 immediately. Delay in seeking medical care can be fatal." -- Dr. Houman Danesh