Dallas Mercurio, OC '20, won an Honorable Mention award for her work in the 2017-2018 Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP) High School and Middle School Essay Contest.
Students were presented with the following topic: The Endangered Species Act protects those species of fish, wildlife, and plants designated as endangered or threatened by the United States government. In 2012, a rare spider was found at the site of a San Antonio highway construction project. The project was then halted. In order to comply with the Endangered Species Act, the project was redesigned which resulted in a budget increase from $15 million to $44 million. Was protecting the spider worth $29 million? Why or why not?
Below is Dallas' award winning essay:
A Price Worth Paying
An endangered species since 2000, the braken bat cave meshweaver, Cicurina venii, faces devastating habitat loss caused by human intrusion. Although there was only one rare sightless spider found at the San Antonio construction site in 2012, this justified the relocation of the entire project. I believe this was the right action not only to follow the ESA, but also because I believe it is the morally right choice.
The Endangered Species Act was established in 1973 to protect animal species labeled as threatened or endangered in America. If the ESA was overlooked for the 2012 incident, then what stops it from being ignored the next time the presence of an endangered species jeopardizes an expensive construction project? If the same law is not upheld for a tiny spider, what stops a pack of grey wolves having their rights ignored for the sake of greed? If the government made an exception for this instance, when would the line be drawn? What gives humans authority to play god; making choices to jeopardize the future of our environment, and our planet.
Abiding by the ESA for tiny Cicurina venii shows saving our planet remains attainable as a society and inside the mighty United States government's realm of control. Canceling the expensive construction in San Antonio for the endangered spider sends a message to all outside observers: everything from the smallest of the arachnea to the grandest of the mammalia are and will be protected as long as the ESA stands.This Act shows how citizens of the United States care about how the loss of these endangered species would wreak havoc on our fragile ecosystem.
The life of that singular spider and its habitat was worth $29 million, because the act of saving it upheld the morals of the ESA. The saving of our world's animals, therefore our world, remains priceless. If we do not pay the price for ourselves, let us pay it for future generations.