A hunter read a new climate study on our CH Facebook page last week and left the following comment: “Conclusion: too late, you're screwed.” So what are the facts? Do we still have a shot at coming out the other side in one piece?
According to the latest science, it looks like America will indeed warm substantially over the next 30 to 50 years. That warming, along with the resultant changes to weather & precipitation patterns, will have negative impacts on our hunting & fishing. That’s pretty much a given at this point.
At the same time, though, we are not yet locked in to the kind of catastrophic warming that means game over for hunters and anglers.
Here’s what you need to understand. The next 3 to 5 years are crucial. If the United States takes a leadership role and convinces (or forces) the rest of the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we can avoid the worst climate impacts. On the other hand, if we choose business-as-usual, and if we’re still having this same conversation in 8 or 10 years, then yes, we are in serious trouble.
Scientists have shared a fair amount of bad news recently. As one headline warned, “Hottest September On Record, Fastest Pacific Warming In 10,000 Years, Warmest Arctic In 120,000 Years.” CO2 levels are now at a record high. Researchers say that landscapes all over the world could experience huge temperature shifts by 2047.
So will all this information inspire us to fight for our hunting and fishing, and for our kids and our grandkids? Or will we resign ourselves to a dismal future?
That’s easy. We’re going to fight. We’ll fight for the places we hunt & fish, and for our sporting heritage, and for future generations of Americans. We don’t shrink from a challenge; we don’t throw in the towel just because the odds aren’t in our favor.
No, we’re not screwed. Not as long as we’re willing to stand up for ourselves, and for our kids and grandkids.
It was about 70 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska.
Five years ago, we wouldn't have believed it was possible. There's no way there would be an active wildfire in the Alaskan interior at the end of October. Now it's a reality. That's the kind of thing we're seeing more and more often as our world warms.
So let’s take a shot. There are a couple of things we know:
1) Our scientists say that the world is getting warmer.
2) They also say that humans are largely responsible, mostly from the 30+ billion tons of CO2 we add to the atmosphere each year by burning fossil fuels.
3) Moose are experiencing increased mortality across much of their southern range, even in places like New Hampshire where they don’t have natural predators.
4) Moose further north seem to be doing just fine.
5) Warmer temperatures are helping to expose moose in the lower 48 to an increased number of parasites and pathogens.
While the science isn’t 100% conclusive yet, it’s extremely likely that warmer temperatures are contributing to higher moose mortality in places like New Hampshire, Minnesota and Montana.
So what can we do about it being warmer? Well, we can’t roll back the clock, pull billions and billions of tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere, and cool the earth back to the average temperatures from the 20th century. What we can do, though, is work hard to ensure that future temperatures don’t climb to levels that will disrupt landscapes, along with fish & game, all over America.
The bad news is that we’re currently on track to dump enough greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere to destroy most, if not all, of our hunting & fishing. The good news is that we have the technology and the know-how to produce clean, sustainable energy and lower our greenhouse gas output dramatically. So now it’s up to us. Will we stick with fossil fuels and sacrifice our hunting & fishing - not to mention our kids and grandkids - or will we roll up our sleeves and get to work on low and no-carbon energy sources?
It truly is our choice.
Here are a couple of key sections from the summary.
Changing climate poses new risks for our treasured freshwater fish resources. Warming waters mean lost habitat for cold-water species, the likely encroachment of species typically found in warmer areas, and exacerbation of existing stressors such as habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, and disease. More extreme weather events—especially longer and more intense droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and floods mean increased likelihood of fish mortality. Shorter winters with less snow and ice cover mean shifts in stream flow and water availability through the spring and summer months, as well as lost opportunities for ice fishing.
We need to act swiftly to protect our fishing heritage. We must cut the carbon pollution that currently is on track to cause significant warming by mid-century. At the same time, we must take steps to safeguard fish and their habitats from the climate changes that we can no longer avoid.
Just as importantly, we want video recordings of both the sportsman’s question and the politician’s answer. If you send us a short video, we’ll do our best to share it far & wide.
Let’s put a little pressure on politicians on both sides of the aisle to address climate change. Hunters and anglers have to show that we understand the threat, and that we take climate change seriously. Are you willing to stand up for your hunting & fishing? Because here’s your chance.
Click here to learn more.
We don't believe climate should be a partisan issue, so we don't treat it like one. We actually try to take the politics out of climate change. Now that can be a bit of a problem for folks who see everything through a partisan lens, but for most people - including most conservatives - it's a breath of fresh air.
As you're probably aware, most sportsmen are conservative. Well, we're sportsmen - everyone associated with CH is a hunter, an angler, or both - and we embrace conservative values. We love to hunt & fish, we really want to pass along our outdoor heritage to our kids & grandkids, we respect our sporting traditions, we're patriotic Americans - in short, we pass the smell test. We're not a bunch of radicals trying to misrepresent ourselves. We're the real deal.
Second, we actually take the time to look at the science. Not just what's in the headlines, but what the scientists are saying. And we've found that climate change is an absolutely huge threat to our hunting & fishing. For example, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which is the most respected scientific organization in the world, calls climate change a "settled fact" and states that climate change is occurring, that people are causing it, and that it's putting our future at risk. NOAA agrees. NASA agrees. So does every single major scientific body in the world. And 97% of climate scientists agree, a fact confirmed by at least four different studies.
Even prominent skeptics like Berkeley's Richard Muller have publicly stated that they were mistaken, and that human emissions are warming the planet. There are plenty of small details that we don't know about climate change, but we do know that it's occurring, that people are causing it by dumping billions of tons of CO2 into the air every year, and that it's a serious threat to our future.
Not only are an overwhelming number of our top scientists telling us that climate is a serious problem, but average folks are starting to see climate change right out the front door. Here in Montana, we’ve seen the following:
Our winter snows come later.
Our winter temperatures aren't as cold as they used to be.
Our snowpack melts earlier, which means runoff comes earlier.
Our rivers run lower and warmer than they used to, with lower dissolved oxygen levels.
The growing season starts earlier and runs later.
So does the wildfire season. We're seeing fires last into mid-October, which has never happened before.
Summer temperatures are hotter, and our summers are dryer.
Our forests are dying from beetle kill - without the cold winters, beetle populations are exploding - and drought.
In short, we're seeing changes all around us, and none of the changes are making our lives easier or better. And all these changes are directly related to climate change.
So that's why conservatives will listen to us. We speak their language, we share their values, we're not partisan, we're completely science-based, and we are confirming the things that they're seeing with their own eyes. We hope that answers your question.
At the end of the day, President Obama’s speech was a good start. But that’s all it was - a start. As sportsmen, we need to steer Congress and American businesses toward a low-carbon future. We also need to accept the president’s invitation and work with him to address climate change. “What we need in this fight,” he said, “are citizens who will stand up and speak up and compel us to do what this moment demands.” That’s our charge now - our most important task. And if we rise to the moment, if we stand strong and resolute before a threat greater than any we’ve faced before, we’ll leave future generations a world where pheasants still flush and elk still bugle and trout still rise - a world worthy of our children and our grandchildren.
So when Congress abdicates its responsibility and refuses to address the single biggest threat we face - radical climate change - we’re left to choose between no action on climate and a less-than-perfect hodgepodge of government mandates and federal regulations.
While sportsmen are always leery of government overreach, and while we’d typically rather see free-market solutions that rely on America’s entrepreneurial spirt, we find ourselves left with no choice. We have to address climate change, and we have to do it now, while there’s still time to limit the impacts and protect our hunting & fishing - not to mention our kids and grandkids. With that in mind, I’m asking America’s hunters and anglers - all 37 million strong - to do the right thing, set partisan politics aside, and support President Obama’s new climate plan.
Is the president’s solution perfect? No, it’s not. But it’s the best deal we’re going to get, and it may just be the shot in the arm that wakes up Congress and gets folks from both sides of the political aisle to sit down at the negotiating table. And even if that doesn’t happen, even if half the U.S. House of Representatives and a goodly number of our Senators continue to spout anti-science rhetoric, at least the president’s plan will begin to lower our emissions and give our children and grandchildren a shot at a decent future and a healthy natural world.
As a lifelong hunter and angler, and as a patriotic American, and as someone who cares deeply about sharing the outdoors with my 8 year old son, I support President Obama’s new climate plan. I hope you will, too.
Chairman of the Board
If conservatives don't begin to engage on the important issue of climate change, we'll cede the debate. The result will be a larger, more intrusive government that hurts business and job creation.
(Click here for the entire piece.)
In a more perfect world, Congress would address climate change with a simple, fair and effective mechanism for dramatically lowering our carbon emissions. While we believe that comprehensive climate & energy legislation is the best path forward, we support executive action in the interim. If Congress isn't able, or willing, to do its job, then the White House has to step up. There's too much at stake for the president to sit on the sidelines while Congress dithers.
The National Wildlife Federation's Judith Kohler has written an excellent post about the impacts of climate-influenced wildfires on sportsmen, fish and wildlife. Take a look.
"Man-made heat-trapping gases are warming our planet and leading to increases in extreme weather events. Droughts are becoming longer and deeper in many areas. The risk of wildfires is increasing. The year 2012, the hottest on record for the United States, illustrated this risk with severe, widespread drought accompanied by extensive wildfires."
"Increases in heat waves and record high temperatures; record lows in Arctic sea ice; more severe rainstorms, droughts and wildfires; and coastal communities threatened by rising seas all offer a preview of the new normal in a warmer world."
The science is clear, the threat from our changing climate is growing, and the alarm bells are indeed ringing. It's time for hunters and anglers to stand up for a healthy natural world, and for our kids & grandkids.
Take a look - we think you'll like the story.
Let’s shine a little light on that assertion. According to NASA, 12 of the 13 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000. We may not be rocket scientists ourselves, but when NASA tell us that 12 of our 13 hottest years have happened since the planet supposedly “stopped warming,” it’s not too hard to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong.
So what does this mean for sportsmen? Well, depending on where you hunt or fish, a warming planet can mean:
*More extreme wildfires.
*Warmer water temperatures.
*Changing waterfowl migration patterns.
*Reduced access to deer and elk.
*Snowpack that arrives later and leaves earlier.
*Lower stream oxygen levels.
*Reduced nesting success for upland birds & waterfowl.
*More pine beetles.
*More dying forests.
*More mosquitoes and ticks.
*Increased disease and pathogens.
*More heat stress on hunting dogs.
*More coastal erosion & loss of wetlands.
*More severe flooding.
*More invasive species.
*A loss of core wildlife habitat.
*Shifting home ranges for both fish & wildlife.
*Earlier spring runoff.
*Lower nutritional values for vegetation.
*Impacts of ocean acidification on saltwater and anadromous fish species.
*Coral reef die-off.
*Reduced fish & game populations.
There’s a reason we’re focused on climate change and its impacts on hunters and anglers, and it’s not because we enjoy reading scientific reports or talking about CO2 levels. At the end of the day, everyone who loves to hunt and fish has a choice to make. Do we work to overcome the biggest threat that sportsmen have ever faced, or do we turn our backs on the problem, and on our kids & grandkids?
As far as we're concerned, that's a pretty easy choice to make.
Here's the link.
"What can cause a man to shift his political thinking, however, is watching a fishing hole he’s enjoyed his whole life wither to ruin because of consistently lower flows and higher temperatures. And when elk remain in the highlands because the snow is late again, and they don’t come down until hunting season is over."
So on one hand we're trying to cut our greenhouse gas emissions and on the other we're wasting - flaring - so much natural gas in North Dakota that you can see it burning from space? Hal Herring lances this festering boil of insanity over at Field & Stream.
Oh, and here's a question that deserves an answer. On those occasions when gas is flared on public land, are the energy companies paying royalties for burning our valuable resources? That gas belongs to the American public. We'd hope that anyone who siphons off public energy reserves without paying royalties, and who, in the process, makes climate change even worse, ends up sitting in the county jail.
The other day, we shared President Obama’s climate message:
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”
What we neglected, though, was the President’s focus on the outdoors, and on our moral imperative to act as stewards and caretakers:
“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.”
The winds have shifted. The President of the United States stood in front of the nation and promised that America will respond to the threat of climate change. Then he made protecting our woods and waters - “our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks” - a centerpiece of his moral argument.
As hunters and anglers, we see the changes to our longterm weather patterns and we understand the importance of defending our centuries-old sporting legacy from the radical threat looming on the horizon. Now, for the first time in years, it seems as if we have a true ally in the White House.
It is time to raise our voices, to demand that our Senators and Representatives fight for us; that they defend the places we hunt and fish; that they help us pass on a healthy world to our children, and to our children’s children. The President is right. America has to lead on climate change. It's the only way we will preserve this great country, commanded to our care by God.
So why should we, as sportsmen, and in many cases as conservative sportsmen, care what the president says about climate change?
It’s simple. Climate change is the one overarching threat to our hunting and angling. It is poised to slam the places we fish, and the places we hunt. If left unchecked, it will place a huge, and possibly unbearable, burden on our children and grandchildren. So when the President of the United States stands before the nation during his inaugural address and makes climate change one of his major priorities, our response can be summed up in one short and heart-felt word.
"While some people continue to question the reality of climate change, as a hunter I’ve experienced it first-hand. It’s time for us to wake up because I want to get up at dawn and see roosters flying into the cornfields to feed. I want my son and daughter to experience what I did as a kid – the opportunity and privilege to walk the fields and have their hearts rush as a pheasant flushes, the dogs bark, and the shotgun roars."
In the meantime, it's our weekly open thread. If you have any thoughts you'd like to share, here's your chance.
According to RecycleWorks, household waste increases by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Years. That’s an additional 1 million tons of landfill waste a week. On top of that, energy-use dramatically increases as well; resulting in higher greenhouse gas emissions. In this special edition of tips, you'll learn how to give back to our sporting heritage and make this a meaningful Season of Giving.
Tip 1 - Avoiding the Greenhouse Gas Grinch: Purchasing LED Holiday Lights is a terrific way to conserve this Christmas. LED holiday lights last 25 times longer and use 90% less energy than incandescent holiday lights. Solar-powered holiday lights are also available, but needless to say, they’re for outdoor use only. If you’re not yet ready to shed your old strands, using timers will cut back on unnecessary energy waste during the late-night or daylight hours.
Tip 2 - Cooking with lower CO2 emissions: When cooking or baking, try to minimize peeking inside the oven. By opening the oven door, the oven temperature drops 25 degrees which will then force your oven to use more energy to return to the desired temperature. Plus, with a home packed full of guests and that turkey or ham cooking away, you can turn down the thermostat and take advantage of that extra holiday warmth.
Tip 3 - Waste-less Winter Wonderland: According to Green Living Ideas, 50% of the paper consumed in the United States each year is used to wrap and decorate consumer products. 8,000 tons of wrapping paper are expected to be used this Christmas, which is the equivalent of using 50,000 trees. By reusing wrapping paper or purchasing re-useable gift wrap and gift bags, you can reduce the amount of trash generated this holiday season - saving yourself (and the environment) from a few lumps of coal.
Tip 4 - Don't regret, recharge: The EPA states that 40% of battery sales take place during the holidays. To help prevent extra toxic waste from entering our landfills and groundwater, try upgrading to rechargeable batteries. These batteries are fully recyclable and have a lighter carbon footprint than disposables. For your high-power capacity needs, look no further than the highly-acclaimed Sanyo eneloop XX batteries.
By making conservation a top-priority this holiday season, we can celebrate and feel good, knowing that our actions will help protect our sporting heritage and our natural resources.
For more surprising info on holiday waste, visit: RecycleWorks's Holiday Waste page.
P.S. Need some last minute climate-friendly gift ideas? Smart power strips, solar-powered chargers, energy-star rated products, Federal Duck Stamps and donations to conservation organizations are perfect examples of gifts that keep on giving. For the carbon-conscious shopper on a low-budget, consider buying second-hand or used gifts. And as always, buy local whenever possible.
Why would they take such serious risks with their careers? According to Jason Box, an arctic researcher who’s studied the Greenland ice sheet for the last 20 years, and who's been arrested for protesting at the White House, it’s pretty simple: “I have a 14-month-old daughter.”
The study shows that the lowest part of our atmosphere is warming while the highest part is actually cooling. This is “exactly what you’d expect if greenhouse gases were trapping heat near the surface rather than letting it percolate upward.”
So when someone asks you how we know that people are responsible for global warming, tell them that satellite measurements show heat is being trapped near the surface, while our upper atmosphere - the stratosphere - is cooling. If the planet was warming naturally because of increased energy output from the sun, or because of a slight shift in our orbit, the stratosphere would be warming too, not cooling off.
We need to be clear. The storms, droughts and wildfires we will experience if we allow climate change to proceed unchecked will eventually overwhelm our resiliency. No amount of money, or economic power, can protect America from an ever-warming world. The only thing that will defend our outdoor heritage, our country, and our children, is if we do the hard work to lower emissions dramatically. We need to tackle that challenge now, while there’s still time.
“'I think it's easy for people to feel that the Arctic is just a faraway place that will never have any direct effect on their life. The last time a majority of permafrost carbon was thawed and lost to the atmosphere, temperatures increased by 6 degrees Celsius. That's a different world.”
''Too often climate change is depicted as a story of drowning polar bears and Third World countries. Human-caused climate change has the potential to change our way of life. Mix in the potent feedbacks from the permafrost system and it becomes clear that we need to act now.'' - Ben Abbott, researcher at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks
For more information, visit the story at The Brisbane Times.
“Humanity and the Earth will soon begin to suffer some very grim consequences.”
“It’s therefore an act of suicide on a grand scale to ride so roughshod over those checks and balances and flout nature’s necessary limits as blatantly as we do.”
“The longer we go on ignoring what is already happening and denying what will happen in the future, the more profoundly we condemn our grandchildren and their children to an unbearably toxic and unstable existence. We simply have to turn the tide.”
Our question for you. Regardless of whether or not you think his comments are accurate, is Prince Charles helping the climate discussion, or hurting it?
Now none of this means we're toast. We can still limit our fossil fuel emissions and keep future temperature increases to much lower levels. But we have to act, and act now. Business as usual won't get it done.
From the report's Executive Summary:
This report provides a snapshot of recent scientific literature and new analyses of likely impacts and risks that would be associated with a 4° Celsius warming within this century. It is a rigorous attempt to outline a range of risks, focusing on developing countries and especially the poor. A 4°C world would be one of unprecedented heat waves, severe drought, and major floods in many regions, with serious impacts on ecosystems and associated services. But with action, a 4°C world can be avoided and we can likely hold warming below 2°C.
￼Without further commitments and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world is likely to warm by more than 3°C above the preindustrial climate. Even with the current mitigation commitments and pledges fully implemented, there is roughly a 20 percent likelihood of exceeding 4°C by 2100. If they are not met, a warming of 4°C could occur as early as the 2060s. Such a warming level and associated sea-level rise of 0.5 to 1 meter, or more, by 2100 would not be the end point: a further warming to levels over 6°C, with several meters of sea-level rise, would likely occur over the following centuries.
Thus, while the global community has committed itself to holding warming below 2°C to prevent “dangerous” climate change, and Small Island Developing states (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have identified global warming of 1.5°C as warming above which there would be serious threats to their own development and, in some cases, survival, the sum total of current policies—in place and pledged—will very likely lead to warming far in excess of these levels. Indeed, present emission trends put the world plausibly on a path toward 4°C warming within the century.
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. In his endorsement of you a few weeks ago, Mayor Bloomberg said he was motivated by the belief that you would do more to confront the threat of climate change than your opponent. Tomorrow you’re going up to New York City, where you’re going to, I assume, see people who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which many people say is further evidence of how a warming globe is changing our weather. What specifically do you plan to do in a second term to tackle the issue of climate change? And do you think the political will exists in Washington to pass legislation that could include some kind of a tax on carbon?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, as you know, Mark (sp), we can’t attribute any particular weather event to climate change. What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been extraordinarily — there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.
And I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions. And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.
Now, in my first term, we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks. That will have an impact. That will a lot of carbon out of the atmosphere. We doubled the production of clean energy, which promises to reduce the utilization of fossil fuels for power generation. And we continue to invest in potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere.
But we haven’t done as much as we need to. So what I’m going to be doing over the next several weeks, next several months, is having a conversation, a wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers and elected officials to find out what can — what more can we do to make short-term progress in reducing carbons, and then working through an education process that I think is necessary, a discussion, the conversation across the country about, you know, what realistically can we do long term to make sure that this is not something we’re passing on to future generations that’s going to be very expensive and very painful to deal with.
I don’t know what — what either Democrats or Republicans are prepared to do at this point, because, you know, this is one of those issues that’s not just a partisan issue. I also think there’s — there are regional differences. There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices, and you know, understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know, if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that.
I won’t go for that.
If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that’s something that the American people would support.
So you know, you can expect that you’ll hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this — moves this agenda forward.
Q: It sounds like you’re saying, though — (off mic) — probably still short of a consensus on some kind of — (off mic).
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — that I’m pretty certain of. And look, we’re — we’re still trying to debate whether we can just make sure that middle-class families don’t get a tax hike. Let’s see if we can resolve that. That should be easy. This one’s hard. But it’s important because, you know, one of the things that we don’t always factor in are the costs involved in these natural disasters. We’d — we just put them off as — as something that’s unconnected to our behavior right now, and I think what, based on the evidence, we’re seeing is — is that what we do now is going to have an impact and a cost down the road if — if — if we don’t do something about it.
We have not endorsed a specific proposal to reduce our carbon emissions and we probably won't in the near future. At the same time, it's big news that the Post would suggest a carbon tax as a way of cutting our fossil fuel use and raising federal revenues. We're heartened that one of the most important newspapers in the country sees the potential for addressing climate change and paying down our debt at the same time.
Here's the beginning of the Post's Op/Ed:
EARLY WEDNESDAY, delivering his victory speech in Chicago, President Obama elevated an issue that had hardly come up during the campaign. “We want our children to live in an America,” he said, “that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
Later that day, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters that climate change is an important issue and that he wants to “address it reasonably” — particularly following big storms in the Northeast that have highlighted rising sea levels and other dangers associated with global warming.
House Speaker John R. Boehner (R-Ohio), meanwhile, spoke about cooperating with Democrats on urgently needed budget reform.
Now if there were just some policy that would reduce carbon emissions and raise federal revenue . . . .
A tax on carbon, of course, is that policy, and lawmakers and the president should be discussing it. The idea is to put a simple price on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases — some dollar amount per ton of CO² — that steadily increases at a pre-set rate.
Dear Representative ______________,
If climate change only impacted butterflies and tree frogs, I probably wouldn’t care much about the subject. But when a warming planet creates extreme storms, droughts, heat waves and wildfires, I pay attention. When our economy suffers, I pay attention. When food prices go up, I pay attention. When my hunting & fishing are threatened, I pay attention. When my family is at risk, I pay attention.
As my Congressman, I expect that you will do everything you possibly can to tackle climate change and safeguard my family, my time afield, and the American economy. Rest assured, I will be following your efforts closely.
John Q. Public
When you write a letter asking the powers-that-be to address climate change, post it on our CH Facebook page and you’ll be eligible to win an Orvis digital camo Safe Passage Sling Pack. You can write a letter (or send an e-mail) to President Obama, to the editor of your local paper, to your Senators or Congressman, to a hunting or fishing magazine ... anything along those lines will work just fine. Simply post your text for everyone to read and the letter or e-mail that gets the most “Likes” by December 1 will win the Orvis pack.
You can even tell your friends, family and co-workers to “Like” your letter. Just make sure they also “Like” our Conservation Hawks Facebook page and their votes will count toward your total. If you have any questions, let us know. And yes, you can enter as many times as you like.
We’ve had two once-in-a-century storms within a decade. Hurricane Sandy seems likely to become the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, behind Hurricane Katrina. Lower Manhattan is struggling to recover from an unprecedented flood, and the New Jersey coast is smashed beyond recognition.
Will we finally get the message?
How, at this point, can anyone deny the scientific consensus about climate change? The traditional dodge — that no single weather event can definitively be attributed to global warming — doesn’t work anymore. If something looks, walks and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Especially if the waterfowl in question is floating through your living room.
Here at Conservation Hawks, we’re not going down that road. Today isn’t the day for anger and acrimony. Instead, we hope that hunters and anglers all over the country will join us in offering up prayers for all those who suffered through the hurricane, and for those who will continue to feel its impact in the future. Millions of Americans are still without power, the storm has done a huge amount of damage, and people who live in the East will be sorting through the wreckage and trying to salvage as much as possible for days and weeks to come. Before we turn our attention back to our changing climate, and to the threat it poses - and to the people who are doing everything they can to keep us from addressing the problem - let’s support our fellow Americans in their hour of need.
The American Red Cross is working to help the millions of people impacted by the storm. You can donate to the Red Cross HERE.
There’s no doubt that the threats we face are grim, and that our efforts to keep sportsmen informed, educated and focused on climate change can sometimes push people away. It’s no fun at all to dwell on the gathering storm clouds on the horizon. In fact, worrying about climate can create a huge mental and emotional weight; one that’s increasingly hard to bear.
At the same time, though, we are always working toward something positive. We’re working to hold on to our fishing and hunting. We want to share it all - those early mornings on the duck marsh, those quiet evenings on the river, the excitement of the flush, the majesty of a bull elk, the jewel-like beauty of a brook trout or a sunfish, a solitary whitetail etched against a darkening horizon - with the people we care about. We want to pass on the outdoors that we know and love to our kids and grandkids. So when we ask you to pay attention to climate change, and to do your part on a personal level, it’s so we can hold on to our hunting & fishing and leave future generations a natural world rich in beauty and wonder. That’s something we can all feel good about.
It grieves me to report that my fellow Republicans frequently dismiss alarm about global warming as liberal dogma. In fact, denial is close to being a plank in the GOP platform. In June 2011, Mitt Romney informed America that he believed “the world is getting warmer” and that “humans contribute to that.” But, after being scolded by party Pooh-Bahs, he announced in October that “we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet.”
It also grieves me to report that denier ranks are well populated by my fellow sportsmen. As a group, sportsmen tend to be conservative; and they are generally ill served by their media, which, more often than not, tells them what they want to hear rather than what they need to know.
Since climate change is threatening our way of life, you’d think that both President Obama and former Governor Romney would feel the need to address it. Yet instead of explaining how their energy plans will help solve the problem, both men ignored the single largest threat to our future. As Chris Hayes has pointed out, discussing energy without talking about climate is like discussing tobacco without talking about cancer. It simply doesn’t make sense.
So now we have a choice. We can turn our backs on a broken political system and leave future generations of Americans to their fate, or we can fight like hell to restore a little sanity to American politics. Here at Conservation Hawks, we've decided to opt for sanity. We hope you’ll join us.
You know where we stand. Let’s raise a little hell.
Is climate change a clear and present danger to our way of life, and to America’s 37 million hunters & anglers?
If so, what are you going to do about it? If not, why are you comfortable ignoring the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which has stated: “A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems.”
If you were the moderator, what questions would you have for the candidates?
Our climate is changing. The world is getting warmer. When we share stories on extreme heat or drought or storms, it’s so you can understand how climate change is impacting our hunting & fishing, and so you can see the absolute necessity of putting pressure on our politicians. If we don’t begin reducing our fossil fuel emissions, we’re going to lose most of our fish & wildlife habitat and we will pass on a diminished planet to our kids and grandkids. We simply can’t let that happen.
In a three-mile stretch of the Kaskaskia River -- a tributary of the Mississippi River about 80 miles southeast of Springfield, Illinois -- a group of people found 26 dead deer, according to local resident Karen Forcum, who reported these findings to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.
Many of the deer were tested by animal control officers and found to have a hemorrhagic fever -- likely brought on by disease-carrying gnats that thrive in drought conditions, Forcum said. They ended up dying at water sources, she added, in their attempts to cool their fevers, albeit to no avail. Similar deer deaths have been reported in Nebraska near the Lower Platte River, around a lake in Delaware, and elsewhere.
We have two questions about climate change, one for President Obama and one for Governor Romney.
President Obama, you recently told the nation “My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet - because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They’re a threat to our children’s future.” Yet at the same time, you’ve spent very little political capital pushing serious climate & energy legislation. If you are reelected, how will you convince a divided and partisan congress that they have to tackle climate change? And if you’re not successful, will you turn your back on the issue once more and leave America vulnerable to a serious threat?
Governor Romney, if the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the most respected scientific organization in the world, is correct, then climate change is already happening, humans are in large part responsible, and the places we hunt and fish are at serious risk. Do you believe that man-made climate change is a clear danger to the United States? If so, what will you do to protect our fisheries and our wildlife habitat, and our kids & grandkids, from future storms, wildfires, drought and sea level rise? And if not, why are you comfortable dismissing a threat that many of our top scientists (and military experts) have repeatedly warned us about?
We applaud President Obama for asserting that “Climate change is one of the biggest issues of this generation” and for raising fuel efficiency standards and proposing carbon pollution limits for power plants. At the same time, we’re puzzled that the Administration has gone radio silent on “one of the biggest issues of this generation.” If climate change is truly a huge problem - and we believe it is - why is Obama ignoring it on the campaign trail? Why isn’t he drawing attention to the threat and using it to define his presidency? We would feel far better about President Obama’s leadership if his actions matched his (infrequent) rhetoric on climate change.
We also applaud Governor Romney for stating “the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming, and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences.” He is right. However, the Governor does us all a disservice when he says “there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue.” That’s simply not true.
At the end of the day, both President Obama and Governor Romney are focused on continued oil, gas and coal production when they should be doing everything possible to wean us off fossil fuels and promote clean, renewable energy. While President Obama seems more aware of climate science, and more willing to reduce emissions and move toward renewable forms of energy, neither man has shown an inclination to lay out the real nature of the threat for the American public. Both should follow in the footsteps of Iowa State Senator Robb Hogg, who recently said “If you and your family enjoy hunting and fishing, you should be concerned about rising sea levels and the planet’s health.”
2. Climate Change. The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change—and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross national boundaries?
Climate change is the one of the biggest issues of this generation, and we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits. Since taking office I have established historic standards limiting greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles for the first time in history. My administration has made unprecedented investments in clean energy, proposed the first-ever carbon pollution limits for new fossil-fuel-fired power plants and reduced carbon emissions within the Federal Government. Since I took office, the U.S. is importing an average of 3 million fewer barrels of oil every day, and our dependence on foreign oil is at a 20-year low. We are also showing international leadership on climate change, reaching historic agreements to set emission limits in unison with all major developed and developing nations. There is still more to be done to address this global problem. I will continue efforts to reduce our dependence on oil and lower our greenhouse gas emissions while creating an economy built to last.
I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming, and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences. However, there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue — on the extent of the warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk — and I believe we must support continued debate and investigation within the scientific community.
Ultimately, the science is an input to the public policy decision; it does not dictate a particular policy response. President Obama has taken the view that if global warming is occurring, the American response must be to slash carbon dioxide emissions by imposing enormous costs on the U.S. economy. First he tried a massive cap-and-trade bill that would have devastated U.S. industry. When that approach was rejected by Congress, he declared his intention to pursue the same course on his own and proceeded through his EPA to impose rules that will bankrupt the coal industry.
Nowhere along the way has the President indicated what actual results his approach would achieve — and with good reason. The reality is that the problem is called Global Warming, not America Warming. China long ago passed America as the leading emitter of greenhouse gases. Developed world emissions have leveled off while developing world emissions continue to grow rapidly, and developing nations have no interest in accepting economic constraints to change that dynamic. In this context, the primary effect of unilateral action by the U.S. to impose costs on its own emissions will be to shift industrial activity overseas to nations whose industrial processes are more emissions-intensive and less environmentally friendly. That result may make environmentalists feel better, but it will not better the environment.
So I oppose steps like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system that would handicap the American economy and drive manufacturing jobs away, all without actually addressing the underlying problem. Economic growth and technological innovation, not economy-suppressing regulation, is the key to environmental protection in the long run. So I believe we should pursue what I call a “No Regrets” policy — steps that will lead to lower emissions, but that will benefit America regardless of whether the risks of global warming materialize and regardless of whether other nations take effective action.
For instance, I support robust government funding for research on efficient, low-emissions technologies that will maintain American leadership in emerging industries. And I believe the federal government must significantly streamline the regulatory framework for the deployment of new energy technologies, including a new wave of investment in nuclear power. These steps will strengthen American industry, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and produce the economically-attractive technologies that developing nations must have access to if they are to achieve the reductions in their own emissions that will be necessary to address what is a global issue.
Unusual weather and habitat loss are combining to disrupt ecological areas across the state and our country. At its web site, Ducks Unlimited states that it has examined “the best available science” and concluded that “climate change poses a significant threat to North America’s waterfowl that could undermine achievements gained through more than 70 years of conservation work.” If you and your family enjoy hunting and fishing, you should be concerned about rising sea levels and the planet’s health.
Finally, I am not afraid to say that I care about the health of the planet simply because I care about it. I want my children and someday my grandchildren and future generations to have the opportunity to live in a world where there are forests in the Rocky Mountains, glaciers in Glacier Park, polar bears, cheetahs, and Monarch butterflies.
The health of the planet matters to me and my family. It should matter to all of us and all of our families.
IT’S REASSURING to imagine we are, by and large, rational beings who base our judgments and decisions on the best evidence we can muster.
The scientific evidence suggests otherwise.
Nowhere can the limits of human rationality be more forcefully encountered than in how we have collectively failed to respond to the existential threat posed by climate change.
Recessions threaten our jobs and income, while fears about terrorism or crime may undermine our sense of well-being. Climate change is uniquely different in that at its heart, it threatens to unravel our most fundamental assumption: that we, as individuals, indeed, as a species, have a future at all.
If this comes as a surprise, you are by no means alone. “We have Palaeolithic emotions, medieval institutions and God-like technologies,” is how noted Harvard biologist EO Wilson framed our dilemma. Many scientists suspect the general public is too wedded to magical thinking and heuristic reasoning to truly grasp the implications of what climate science has been spelling out with ever-greater urgency for the last two decades. This is at best a limited explanation.
Evidence from behavioural and brain sciences points to the fact that “the human moral judgment system is not well equipped to identify climate change – a complex, large-scale and unintentionally caused phenomenon – as an important moral imperative”, according to a recent article in the science journal, Nature Climate Change.
Many, indeed most, American sportsmen fall on the conservative side of the political spectrum. If we want to defend our hunting and angling from the single largest threat we’ve ever faced, and if we want to pass along a healthy natural world to our kids and grandkids, then we have to convince our conservative politicians to stand with us, and for us. That’s not going to happen if we sit silently on the sidelines.
The following paragraph is the only place where the words “climate change” appear in the 2012 Republican National Platform.
A Failed National Security Strategy
The current Administration’s most recent National Security Strategy reflects the extreme elements in its liberal domestic coalition. It is a budget-constrained blueprint that, if fully implemented, will diminish the capabilities of our Armed Forces. The strategy significantly increases the risk of future conflict by declaring to our adversaries that we will no longer maintain the forces necessary to fight and win more than one conflict at a time. It relies on the good intentions and capabilities of international organizations to justify constraining American military readiness. Finally, the strategy subordinates our national security interests to environmental, energy, and international health issues, and elevates “climate change” to the level of a “severe threat” equivalent to foreign aggression. The word “climate,” in fact, appears in the current President’s strategy more often than Al Qaeda, nuclear proliferation, radical Islam, or weapons of mass destruction. The phrase “global war on terror” does not appear at all, and has been purposely avoided and changed by his Administration to “overseas contingency operations.”
There is unequivocal evidence that Earth’s lower atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; sea level is rising; and snow cover, mountain glaciers, and Arctic sea ice are shrinking. The dominant cause of the warming since the 1950s is human activities. This scientific finding is based on a large and persuasive body of research. The observed warming will be irreversible for many years into the future, and even larger temperature increases will occur as greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere. Avoiding this future warming will require a large and rapid reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions. The ongoing warming will increase risks and stresses to human societies, economies, ecosystems, and wildlife through the 21st century and beyond, making it imperative that society respond to a changing climate.
We hope that individual meteorologists across the country will follow the AMS’s lead and begin to publicly address climate change on a regular basis.
It would be nice if Congressman Ryan was more substantive and less partisan the next time around.
And there was Mitt Romney earlier this week campaigning in coal country and ridiculing Obama’s support of wind power. Holy soot. If that were a movie, you’d sit there thinking the writers had played too obviously to villanous stereotype. But no, the US Reality Show outdoes fiction. Only in America can a politician pretend that you don’t even have to consider discussing or acknowleging climate change, even with half the country burning up, much of it literally. And your media plays right along. And so do you.
Did the TV reporter covering Mitt mention that climate change MIGHT have some bearing on the debate between coal and renewables? Of course not, because the media has been cowed into the cozy-safe zone of acting as if the science is all up in the air with the carbon. Do reporters know that in fact the science is essentially settled? Yes. Do their editors? Also yes. But hey, the easy way out is, well, EASIER! Who wants to poke a stick into the right-wing noise machine? And who’s going to call them on it? Oh, there’s that one cartoonist/blogger who seems to care about it. Yawn. Take a chill pill, Tommy!
It amazes that people think that climate change is the responsibility of “environmentalists.” And that you can report stories that bear directly on it without so much as a MENTION. Which planet do these reporters live on? Which planet do YOU live on? And so over to you, voters. If you don’t want to live in a stupid, frying country, start acting like it. The forests are burning. The houses are burning. The corn is shriveling. The brains are shriveling. Or take your chill pill and see how cool that makes things.
As the story states: With their normal summer diet of greens and berries shriveled by summer heat or drought in many spots nationwide, hungry bears are rummaging through garbage, ripping through screens and crawling into cars in search of sustenance.
Watch NASA Study Links Extreme Summer Heat to Climate Change on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988 , I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet. I painted a grim picture of the consequences of steadily increasing temperatures, driven by mankind’s use of fossil fuels.
But I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic.
Click here to read the entire piece.
While ignoring climate change might be a good political strategy, both the Obama and Romney approaches are intellectually disingenuous and morally irresponsible. Romney's position is ridiculous, as it ignores the enormous scientific literature on anthropogenic climate change. But is Obama's position any better? Any delay increases the probability of reaching a tipping point beyond which mitigation measures will be too little and too late to avoid catastrophic consequences. Yet the Obama administration has ignored this threat, offering instead a thin and uncompelling case for developing clean energy.
In our case - and we’re talking about hunters & anglers here - the motivation is that we have something truly special that we want to pass along to our kids & grandkids. Hunting and fishing require us to immerse ourselves in a healthy natural environment. That won’t be possible if climate change slams our landscapes and waterways to the point where they fragment and then eventually fail. We do our very best to protect the places we love, and the fish & wildlife we cherish, because we want to share our time outdoors with our children and grandchildren. That’s about as intrinsic - and powerful - a motivator as you’re likely to run across.
Watch Swinomish Tribe Works to Adapt to Shrinking Salmon Supply on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
If you’re looking for extra motivation today, there’s a story in yesterday’s Washington Post about the likelihood of a drought-stricken future here in the U.S. There’s also a new piece out on the increasing damage from hail storms. But if you’re on the other side of the motivation divide this morning and all the bad news has you down, take a minute and focus on the positive things in your life. We’re working hard to stop climate change because we care so much about our hunting & fishing, and about our friends and families. Every once in a while we need to kick back and think about what’s really important.
With that in mind, here’s a photo that may make you smile.
As CBS reported, “On Tuesday, for the first time, government scientists are saying recent extreme weather events are likely connected to man-made climate change.”
So what does that mean for us? Momentum. Politicians and bureaucrats who don’t ordinarily concern themselves with issues that impact hunters & anglers will be rousing themselves from their collective stupor and listening to the word “climate” as if for the very first time. We need to drive our point home. We need to tell our senators and representatives - and our presidential candidates - to get off their backsides and start taking our future seriously. Make a phone call. Send an e-mail. Write a letter-to-the-editor. Raise a little hell! Those news stories that ran last night have created a window of opportunity and we need to plant our seeds while the soil is still fertile.
If you love to hunt or fish, if you love the outdoors, if you love your family, then stand up and be counted. We don’t have opportunities like this very often. Raise your voice while there’s still time.
MSNBC is reporting that fish are dying all over from high water temps and low dissolved oxygen levels. We can’t do anything about the current, global-warming-fueled heat wave, but we can stand up for ourselves, and for fish & wildlife habitat, and demand that Congress pass strong climate & energy legislation. If we don’t limit our CO2 emissions, weather-related fish kills will become an everyday occurrence in the future.
Watch What's Causing Unusually Hot Temperatures in U.S.? on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.
“The grinding drought that transformed much of the West into a tinderbox has all but choked off the growing season here. Farmers say rainfall totals are five to seven inches below normal — a withering deficit — and many have not plowed under their old crops to plant new rows of wheat, corn and milo.”
Joe Romm at Climate Progress has an excellent new post up on the media’s failure to connect the dots on climate change. Take a look - he hits the nail square on the head.
As people who see the connection between climate change and our crazy weather, we need to take the time to explain to our friends, family & colleagues - and to our elected officials - what’s happening and why it’s so important to address global warming as soon as possible.
One final point: Mitigation and adaptation spending are not equivalent. Mitigation spending will go to new energy systems, new public transit systems, new agricultural systems. It will yield innovation, higher productivity, new jobs, and improved quality of life. It’s like paying for your kid to go to college or building a factory for your business — the high upfront costs yield substantial long-term returns, paying themselves back many times over. Mitigation spending is investment.
Adaptation spending isn’t like that. It goes to maintaining the value of existing investments. It’s as though the maintenance costs on your factory doubled. You’re not getting any additional value out of the factory, you’re just putting more money in. Adaptation spending is pure cost, a net loss that displaces other productive investments. (This is true for most but not all adaptation spending … but I’ll address that in a separate post.)
Mr. Romney has plainly decided that satisfying his party’s antiregulatory base is essential to his political future. But the policies he espouses would be devastating for the country and the planet.
Today he is a proclaimed skeptic on global warming, a champion of oil and other fossil fuels, a critic of federal efforts to develop cleaner energy sources and a sworn enemy of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The man who once worried about climate-driven sea-level rise in poor countries like Bangladesh now says things like “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet,” as if mainstream science were wrong and humans had nothing to do with it.
Climate change is the largest, most important threat we face. It’s unacceptable that President Obama has ignored the issue for the last 3 plus years. It’s equally unacceptable that former Governor Romney has flip-flopped on climate change and become a cheerleader for fossil fuels We need leaders who will fight for our future, not politicians who jump at the chance to sell us out. It’s time for sportsmen to stand up and demand that whoever occupies the White House next year takes immediate action to address global warming. If we don’t defend our hunting & fishing, and our kids & grandkids, we’re going to lose everything we care about.
Click here and take a look at what we’re trying to put together. If you the ability to contribute, we’d definitely appreciate any help that you can offer.
According to the LA Times:
A group of international scientists is sounding a global alarm, warning that population growth, climate change and environmental destruction are pushing Earth toward calamitous — and irreversible — biological changes.
"The net effects of what we're causing could actually be equivalent to an asteroid striking the Earth in a worst-case scenario," the paper's lead author, Anthony Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley, said in an interview. "I don't want to sound like Armageddon. I think the point to be made is that if we just ignore all the warning signs of how we're changing the Earth, the scenario of losses of biodiversity — 75% or more — is not an outlandish scenario at all.
The period from June 2011 to May 2012 was the warmest 12-months since records began (in 1895) in the continental United States. This unprecedented stretch of warmth bests the previous 12-month record, established just one month ago.
NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center also reports today that:
* the year-to-date period (January-May) has been the warmest on record, 5 degrees above average
* the spring period (March-May) was warmest on record in the U.S., crushing the previous warmest spring (1910) by 2 full degrees and an impressive 5.2 degrees above the 1901-2000 average.
* the month of May was 2nd warmest on record, 3.3 degrees above average.
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A little taste:
This is folly. They’re basically making a bet that the future will be just like the past. The sad facts of the matter, confirmed by more data every day, are that the future will not be like the past. Indeed, if you go to places such as Alaska or Greenland, you’ll see that the present is not like the past. If you look at the extreme weather swings everywhere in the past few years, you’ll also get an inkling. And doing nothing now leads to catastrophe later. It did in New Orleans, where pre-Katrina the Corps of Engineered ignored copious evidence that its hurricane levee system was based on decades-old information and other faulty assumptions, while building in catastrophic design flaws for good measure.
There’s a broader problem here. Whether it deals with potential floods, pollution, or public health, government policy must have a sound scientific basis. Conservatives and business organizations have attacked government scientific assessments for decades, often with their own counter-assessments. But until recently, everybody agreed that empiricism – a testable scientific judgment about what is happening in reality – should be a basic grounding for action (or inaction, as the case may be). They just disagreed on the science. Now, it’s becoming OK, even expected, to reject mainstream science as flat-out illegitimate and use somebody’s whim as the basis for decisions. Which means when reality eventually hits, it will hit much, much harder.
From the Scientific American blog:
That is, the meter or so of sea level rise predicted for the NC Coastal Resources Commission by a state-appointed board of scientists is extremely inconvenient for counties along the coast. So the NC-20 types have decided that we can escape sea level rise – in North Carolina, anyhow – by making it against the law. Or making MEASURING it against the law, anyhow.
Here’s a little taste:
A 2007 analysis of 19 climate projections estimated that levels of aridity comparable to those in the Dust Bowl could stretch from Kansas to California by mid-century. To make matters worse, the regions at risk of reduced water supply, such as Nevada, have seen a massive population boom in the past decade. Overuse of water in these areas has long been rife, depleting groundwater stores.
Of course, the United States is not alone in facing such problems. Since 1950, the global percentage of dry areas has increased by about 1.74% of global land area per decade. Recent studies have projected ‘extreme drought’ conditions by mid-century over some of the most populated areas on Earth—southern Europe, south-east Asia, Brazil, the US Southwest, and large parts of Australia and Africa. These dust-bowl conditions are projected to worsen for many decades and be “largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stopped.”
As hunters and anglers, it's hard to disagree with Romm's perspective. Lasting drought - or what Romm calls dust-bowlification - would have a huge and unprecedented impact on our fish and wildlife populations.
While there were once tolerable numbers of the kinds of pests that drive wild mammals crazy -- ticks, black flies and humans -- these pests are proliferating.
Take ticks, for instance. While moose are well adapted to host some native winter ticks, their tolerance for the blood-sucking arachnids is being challenged as the tick population has surged under warming conditions.
Biologists are now documenting individual adult moose with tick burdens of 50,000 to 70,000, a ten- to twentyfold increase over what used to be a normal load. In addition to transmitting diseases, the ticks are irritating the moose, causing them to rub off large patches of hair and even skin, and leaving them greatly weakened from blood loss.
Bob Dylan had it right. The times they are a-changin’ ...
Game Over for the Climate
By JAMES HANSEN
Published: May 9, 2012
GLOBAL warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”
If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.
Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.
That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.
If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically. President Obama has the power not only to deny tar sands oil additional access to Gulf Coast refining, which Canada desires in part for export markets, but also to encourage economic incentives to leave tar sands and other dirty fuels in the ground.
The global warming signal is now louder than the noise of random weather, as I predicted would happen by now in the journal Science in 1981. Extremely hot summers have increased noticeably. We can say with high confidence that the recent heat waves in Texas and Russia, and the one in Europe in 2003, which killed tens of thousands, were not natural events — they were caused by human-induced climate change.
We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life. But add too much, as we are doing now, and temperatures will inevitably rise too high. This is not the result of natural variability, as some argue. The earth is currently in the part of its long-term orbit cycle where temperatures would normally be cooling. But they are rising — and it’s because we are forcing them higher with fossil fuel emissions.
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen from 280 parts per million to 393 p.p.m. over the last 150 years. The tar sands contain enough carbon — 240 gigatons — to add 120 p.p.m. Tar shale, a close cousin of tar sands found mainly in the United States, contains at least an additional 300 gigatons of carbon. If we turn to these dirtiest of fuels, instead of finding ways to phase out our addiction to fossil fuels, there is no hope of keeping carbon concentrations below 500 p.p.m. — a level that would, as earth’s history shows, leave our children a climate system that is out of their control.
We need to start reducing emissions significantly, not create new ways to increase them. We should impose a gradually rising carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies, then distribute 100 percent of the collections to all Americans on a per-capita basis every month. The government would not get a penny. This market-based approach would stimulate innovation, jobs and economic growth, avoid enlarging government or having it pick winners or losers. Most Americans, except the heaviest energy users, would get more back than they paid in increased prices. Not only that, the reduction in oil use resulting from the carbon price would be nearly six times as great as the oil supply from the proposed pipeline from Canada, rendering the pipeline superfluous, according to economic models driven by a slowly rising carbon price.
But instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to make fossil fuels pay their true costs, leveling the energy playing field, the world’s governments are forcing the public to subsidize fossil fuels with hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This encourages a frantic stampede to extract every fossil fuel through mountaintop removal, longwall mining, hydraulic fracturing, tar sands and tar shale extraction, and deep ocean and Arctic drilling.
President Obama speaks of a “planet in peril,” but he does not provide the leadership needed to change the world’s course. Our leaders must speak candidly to the public — which yearns for open, honest discussion — explaining that our continued technological leadership and economic well-being demand a reasoned change of our energy course. History has shown that the American public can rise to the challenge, but leadership is essential.
The science of the situation is clear — it’s time for the politics to follow. This is a plan that can unify conservatives and liberals, environmentalists and business. Every major national science academy in the world has reported that global warming is real, caused mostly by humans, and requires urgent action. The cost of acting goes far higher the longer we wait — we can’t wait any longer to avoid the worst and be judged immoral by coming generations.
James Hansen directs the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is the author of “Storms of My Grandchildren.”
Dr. Jeff Masters has more on the new record at WunderBlog, including the ten warmest 12 month periods ever recorded in the U.S. (None of which go back as far as 1998.)
Runoff “used to peak in late May or June, but now peaks in early May.”, while warmer water temps are impacting fisheries.
It’s nice to see this kind of solid reporting in the mainstream media. Now if we can just get Congress to start paying attention ...
“This is a full-on fight between information and disinformation, between the urge to witness and the urge to cover-up. The fossil-fuel industry has funded endless efforts to confuse people, to leave an impression that nothing much is going on. But -- as with the tobacco industry before them -- the evidence has simply gotten too strong.
Once you saw enough people die of lung cancer, you made the connection. The situation is the same today. Now, it’s not just the scientists and the insurance industry; it’s your neighbors. Even pleasant weather starts to seem weird. Fifteen thousand U.S. temperature records were broken, mainly in the East and Midwest, in the month of March alone, as a completely unprecedented heat wave moved across the continent. Most people I met enjoyed the rare experience of wearing shorts in winter, but they were still shaking their heads. Something was clearly wrong and they knew it.”
So here’s our question for you. Assuming that Dr. Hansen and the vast majority of the scientific community are right about climate change, what steps should sportsmen take to protect our hunting & fishing, and our families, from climate change? Should we be looking at a more active role with our future on the line, or should we stick to writing letters and calling our elected representatives? What do you think?
So given this level of support, why aren’t our politicians in DC doing anything to protect our hunting & fishing from climate change? Mostly because we’re not holding their feet to the fire. Which means it’s time to raise some hell. Call your Congressman. Call your Senators. Tell them that they’d better get to work on climate change if they want to hold on to their jobs come November.
A case in point. New research in Colorado has shown that mountain pine beetles are taking flight a month earlier than in the past, and now some pine beetles are producing two generations of offspring a year. How does the asymmetrical aspect of things come into play? According to the researchers, this second generation of pine beetles means there could be up to 60 times as many beetles attacking trees in any given year.
Think about that for a second. A couple degrees of warming can mean that 60 times as many pine beetles are killing our trees. What’s going to happen when we warm 6 or 8 or 10 degrees?
Based on this new information, which was just published in Science, the global water cycle will intensify far more rapidly than we’ve imagined, leading to even heavier precipitation in historically wet areas and longer and more severe droughts in dry areas.
Which, in the grand scheme of things, is not exactly what sportsmen were hoping for. Severe flooding and severe droughts don’t typically help fish & wildlife populations.
“Part of the challenge over these past three years has been that people's number-one priority is finding a job and paying the mortgage and dealing with high gas prices. In that environment, it's been easy for the other side to pour millions of dollars into a campaign to debunk climate-change science. I suspect that over the next six months, this is going to be a debate that will become part of the campaign, and I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we're going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way.”
The Washington Post followed up on the Rolling Stone interview with an excellent editorial in today’s paper, titled “Mr. Obama needs to show he’s serious about climate change.” I couldn’t agree more.
So is the President actually going to focus on climate change in the run-up to the election? Only time will tell, but I tend to share Joe Romm’s “I’ll believe it when I see it.” point of view. Which is a shame. Given the seriousness of the issue and the impacts we’re already beginning to see - increased flooding, heat waves, droughts & catastrophic forest fires - both Democrats and Republicans should concentrate on doing everything possible to lower our emissions and create a strong renewable energy economy. Instead, one party lacks the courage of its convictions and the other seems to think that climate change is either a liberal hoax or a communist plot.
It’s time for America’s sportsmen to stand up. It’s time to demand that our politicians start taking climate change seriously. Our entire future is on the line. And if our Congressmen and Senators won’t listen, we need to vote them out of office and elect folks who will actually do the job.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
“The world's energy system is being pushed to breaking point. Our addiction to fossil fuels grows stronger each year. Many clean energy technologies are available but they are not being deployed quickly enough to avert potentially disastrous consequences.”
If we hit a 6 degree C temperature increase this century, as the IEA predicts, our elk will disappear. So will our trout and our pheasants and our whitetails. And so will we.
It’s time to stand up and fight for our hunting & fishing, and our kids and grandkids.
At the same time, Conservation Hawks is a non-partisan organization and we’re happy to feature folks from the other side of the political aisle. If you can point us toward a Republican politician with a strong message on climate change, we’ll make sure he or she gets equal billing here on the Rod & Gun Club blog.
Paul Douglas, the Republican meteorologist who recently penned an excellent essay on climate change and climate denial, is at it again. He has a new piece out in Business Week with the surprising, if obviously accurate, title, Climate Change Unrelated to Gore.
A little taste:
The millennium’s first decade was the warmest on record and included nine of the 10 hottest years. Greenhouse gas levels are at their highest in 800,000 years. Less heat is escaping the top of the atmosphere in the wavelengths of greenhouse gases. For the first time, scientists have recorded both hemispheres are warming – and the global temperature spike can’t be linked to an astronomical trigger, such as solar variability. Great Lakes peak ice has seen a 71 percent drop since 1973. Winters are shorter. Lakes melt earlier. Plants are moving north.
Worldwide, 95% of land-based glaciers are losing mass. September Arctic sea ice has lost 10 percent of its area every decade. Sea levels are rising. Oceans are 30 percent more acidic. Flooding and extreme storms are spiking in frequency and intensity. Last winter was the 4th warmest on record, despite the cooling influence of a La Nina phase in the Pacific.
Extremes are becoming more extreme. And none of it has anything to do with Al Gore.
Read the entire essay here.
An American Corn Growers Association press release quotes Keith Bolin, who was president of the group from 2004 2012, as saying: “There’s simply no substitute for good soil and a stable climate for growing crops. That puts farmers at the front lines of global warming — it’s a grave threat to rural livelihoods and quality of life. That’s why I support EPA policies to cut global warming pollution from automobiles and power plants.”
Mr. Bolin, who farms in Illinois, feels strongly enough about climate change to speak out publicly on the issue. As hunters and anglers, we need to applaud his honesty and follow his example.
When you have a second, swing over to the Forecast The Facts website and sign their petition. The least we can ask from our meteorologists is that they steer clear of climate denial and stick to actual science.
According to NOAA scientist and co-author of the study, Dr. Richard Feely, “the clear take-home message from this research is that for the oceans, the Pacific Oyster larvae are the ‘canaries in the coal mines’ for ocean acidification. When the CO2 levels in the ocean are too high, they die; when we lower the CO2 levels, they live.”
I interviewed Dr. Feely back in 2009 for Sporting Classics and he said at the time that the extent of ocean acidification was already “astonishing and disturbing” and that “the decisions we make over the next generation will affect our ocean ecosystems for millions of years.”
We haven’t talked much about ocean acidification yet, but we will. As our oceans absorb the CO2 we release into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels, that CO2 mixes with sea water and forms carbonic acid. Long story short, we are changing the chemistry of our ocean water and making it more acidic. We’re already seeing the impact on oysters. It’s also likely that ocean acidification will have a major impact on shellfish, on pteropods and other calcifying organisms at the base of the food chain, and on salt water and anadromous game fish.
It’s really pretty simple. If we want to hold on to our steelhead & salmon, our bonefish & tarpon and our stripers & blues, then we’d better stop dumping CO2 into the atmosphere and changing the chemistry of our oceans.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
Now we have to push hard to take advantage of this general awakening. We have to educate more people - especially sportsmen - and we have to push for the strongest possible climate & energy legislation.
* Last month was the warmest March on record (records go back to 1895) at 51.1 degrees; this is 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
* January-March was the warmest first quarter on record; the average temperature of 42 degrees was 6 degrees above average.
* April 2011-March 2012 was the warmest stretch of those 12 months on record; at 55.4 degrees, that period was 2.6 degrees above average.
* In March, 15,292 records were broken for warmth; 7,775 were new daytime highs in cities across the country and 7,517 were new nighttime highs.
Pretty wild stuff ...
Trenberth believes “all weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.” There’s about 4% more water vapor in the air than there was back in 1970, and that moist air not only contributes to “more intense precipitation events” but acts as a “powerful greenhouse gas.”
Long story short, Trenberth states, “The climate has changed; global warming is unequivocal (IPCC 2007) and human activities have undoubtedly changed the composition of the atmosphere and produced warming. Moreover there is no other plausible explanation for the warming.”
We don’t typically focus on the left vs. right aspect of climate change here at Conservation Hawks. Climate shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and we don’t want to reinforce the status quo by buying into the conventional wisdom on politics. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: both major political parties should compete to offer the best policy solutions to the most important issue of our time.
But we also have to face facts. Many sportsmen are conservatives, and a fair number of conservatives are skeptical of manmade climate change. So with that in mind, we’re going to bring the Douglas piece front and center. We recommend you read the entire essay, but in the meantime here are a handful of the money quotes. Please let us know what you think in the comment section.
“I’m going to tell you something that my Republican friends are loath to admit out loud: climate change is real. I am a moderate Republican, fiscally conservative; a fan of small government, accountability, self-empowerment, and sound science. I am not a climate scientist. I’m a meteorologist, and the weather maps I’m staring at are making me uncomfortable. No, you’re not imagining it: we’ve clicked into a new and almost foreign weather pattern. To complicate matters, I’m in a small, frustrated and endangered minority: a Republican deeply concerned about the environmental sacrifices some are asking us to make to keep our economy powered-up, long-term. It’s ironic. The root of the word conservative is “conserve.” A staunch Republican, Teddy Roosevelt, set aside vast swaths of America for our National Parks System, the envy of the world. Another Republican, Richard Nixon, launched the EPA. Now some in my party believe the EPA and all those silly ‘global warming alarmists’ are going to get in the way of drilling and mining our way to prosperity. Well, we have good reason to be alarmed.”
“Trust your gut - and real experts. We should listen to peer-reviewed climate scientists, who are very competitive by nature.”
“I truly hope these scientists turn out to be wrong, but I see no sound, scientific evidence to support that position today. What I keep coming back to is this: all those dire (alarmist!) warnings from climate scientists 30 years ago? They’re coming true, one after another – and faster than supercomputer models predicted.”
“Human emissions have grown significantly over the past 200 years, and now exceed 27 billion tons of carbon dioxide, annually. To pretend this isn’t having any effect on the 12-mile thin atmosphere overhead is to throw all logic and common sense out the window.”
“I’m a Christian, and I can’t understand how people who profess to love and follow God roll their eyes when the subject of climate change comes up. Actions have consequences. Were we really put here to plunder the Earth, no questions asked? Isn’t that the definition of greed? In the Bible, Luke 16:2 says, ‘Man has been appointed as a steward for the management of God’s property, and ultimately he will give account for his stewardship.’ Future generations will hold us responsible for today’s decisions.”
“If you don’t want to believe thousands of climate scientists – at least believe your own eyes: winters are warmer & shorter, summers more humid, more extreme weather events, with a 1-in-500 year flood every 2-3 years.”
“This is a moral issue.”
“We don’t have much time.”
Dr. Jeff Masters at WunderBlog reports that between 1974 and 2010, Lake Erie lost 50% of its ice, Lake Huron lost 62%, Lake Michigan lost 77%, Lake Superior lost 79% and Lake Ontario lost 88%.
As you might imagine, that’s bad news for both ice fishermen and the down-wind homeowners who are shoveling more lake-effect snow because of the increased winter evaporation.
Here’s a taste of the report, featuring our own Bill Geer:
Four kinds of trout live in the clear, cool waters of Lolo Creek, which flows out of the Bitterroot Mountains near Missoula, Montana. Bill Geer and his wife live less than half a mile from the creek, and he takes every opportunity he can to fish there.
Geer, a wildlife biologist, has been fishing the creek regularly since he first came to Missoula as a college student in 1970. In the past decade, though, he’s noticed a disturbing trend: With warmer temperatures and shorter, less snowy winters, he’s catching fewer fish. “A good snowpack means there’s enough water for the trout. But now there’s not enough snow,” he said. “My little fishing stream isn’t such a Shangri–La anymore—–it’s breaking my heart.”
Geer points out that this is happening elsewhere in the West. On the Yellowstone River in southern Montana, on the White River in Colorado, and elsewhere, stream flows are declining as winter snowpacks are decreasing. “When flow trends go downhill, that doesn’t signal a good future for trout. It’s getting too warm for them.”
As sad as this makes him, he’s more worried about the impacts on his six grandchildren, several of whom also hunt and fish. “It concerns me that they’re going to be losing some of the great outdoor opportunities that I had.”
It’s not just fishing opportunities that Geer sees going downhill. He goes elk hunting every fall with a friend, and they’ve noticed that their success is declining. Traditionally, elk migrate out of their high-altitude habitat in the fall, when cold weather and snow drive the animals to lower elevations. “Now with winter coming later, and being warmer, the elk are staying higher longer. They aren’t coming down until the end of the hunting season, or after the season has ended. For a hunter, you’re not happy about that.”
Geer, who directs climate change initiatives for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, said there’s no question that carbon pollution is behind these trends. For people who doubt whether climate change is real, he suggests paying less attention to public polls on the issue and more attention to wildlife. “If you want to know what’s happening, look at what’s happening to the critters. Look at Colorado’s elk or Yellowstone’s cutthroat. They’re telling us a story.”
Wildlife populations have always been susceptible to drought. But now human-caused climate change is making the situation worse. Take a look at the video. It shows what we have to look forward to if we don’t start reducing our greenhouse gases in the near future.
Peter Sinclair just released a fascinating new climate video titled “Global Warming: What we knew in 82.” Take a few minutes and check it out. I think you’ll be amazed at the consistency of the science from 1982 to 2012, and at how well earlier projections have stood the test of time.
The implications for sportsmen are clear. We need to address climate change, and we need to do it now.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
The video includes Weather Channel meteorologist Stu Ostro, a former climate skeptic who now believes climate change is impacting our weather. As Ostro put it, “My point of view has changed, and that’s based on data and science, not politics.”
Climate Progress has a long post on the amazing warm weather, including the Weather Channel video and a new quote from meteorologist Dr. Jeff Masters.
NASA and NOAA didn’t agree, but the Brits have indeed remained steadfast that ’98 was the warmest year ever.
Until now, that is. It turns out that the planet is continuing to warm after all, and that temperatures have risen more than we thought.
Tip of the hat to Joe Romm at Climate Progress.
Back on March 7th, we ran a post from Bill Geer, who is the Climate Change Initiative Manager for the TRCP, and who’s been a driving force behind Conservation Hawks since we first started the organization.
Bill just published a new climate change Op/Ed in the Seattle Times. We’re going to reproduce it in its entirety down below. If you read the original post, you may notice a few similarities to the Times piece, but you’ll also see a bunch of new material. Kudos to Bill, who is one of the hardest working and most talented conservationists in the country.
Address Climate Change With Science, Not Opinion Polls
Should elected officials and policymakers let public-opinion polls decide our nation's future response to climate change? Indisputably, no.
The roller-coaster path of public acceptance on climate change charted by political polls is frustrating to the pragmatists among us. With nearly 98 percent of the world's climate scientists saying climate change already is affecting the natural world, effective action requires the knowledge we gain from focused investigations and sound science — not political polls.
We should solicit the views of those not subject to political debates — fish and wildlife.
Biologists do that through field investigations on the distribution and abundance of species in habitats that meet their life-cycle requirements. If one habitat no longer will support a species, the species must move to another habitat that does. It cannot debate habitability in the public square and it votes by adapting, migrating or dying.
Growing climatological and biological information tells a story of environmental change in Washington state that is beyond rational debate. Washington's average air temperature increased 1.65 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 through 2006, compared with a 1.25 degree increase for the United States. Average winter snowpack in the state declined 2.7 percent over the same period, and spring rain increased 16.2 percent.
August precipitation has declined 35.5 percent. The South Cascade Glacier in North Cascades National Park has been shrinking so rapidly over the past three decades that scientists predict it could melt completely within a century, jeopardizing chinook salmon reproduction in the Cascade River.
The best scientific predictions show that the sea level will rise 2 to 4 feet along the coast of Washington by 2100. Recent studies in Skagit Bay, Willapa Bay, Gray's Harbor and the mouth of the Columbia River predict nearly a 60 percent loss of low tidal habitat and eelgrass beds by 2100, probably leading to a steep decline in coastal black brant abundance.
Climate change is forcing Washington's elk populations to adapt to changes in their forage and shift their annual migration patterns. Variations in water quality and quantity could transform some trout rivers to smallmouth bass waters. Freshwater wetland loss throughout Washington could severely reduce waterfowl productivity. The loss of the insulation of prairie snow cover in Eastern Washington can kill sharp-tailed grouse chicks in early spring when air temperatures still are freezing.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, under the state's Climate Leadership Act, is planning adaptive measures to better conserve and manage fish and wildlife across broad landscapes in the changing climate. With recommendations from the Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group, the agency is emphasizing conservation of crucial areas, such as winter range for elk, and corridors that will enable fish and wildlife species to move to other suitable habitat.
Thomas Kimball, past director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said in 1981:
"Man is an integral part of the animal kingdom. As our environment becomes less livable for the subjects of the kingdom, it also becomes less suitable for the king. The status and trends of species diversity and the condition of fish and wildlife populations are the litmus tests of a healthy human environment."
Man and wildlife — we're all in this together. We need to accept that.
William Geer is the Climate Change Initiative Manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. He produced a video, "Beyond Seasons' End — Washington," documenting the impacts of climate change on Washington's fish and wildlife. He is based in Lolo, Mont.
No one who follows climate science will be surprised to learn that last’s month’s shotgun challenge has come and gone without my Beretta changing hands. Long story short, the science on climate change remains solid.
If there’s one thing that caught me by surprise, it’s how truly ineffective people were in making the case that human-caused climate change is a hoax. The standard approach was to copy an opinion piece from a marginal source like WUWT, e-mail it to me, and expect me to fork over my gun. No one presented substantive, peer-reviewed science that contradicts our current understanding of climate change, and no one offered an alternate hypothesis that explains the physical realities around us and also stands up to close scientific scrutiny.
I’ll keep the challenge open, but it sure looks like I’ll be holding on to my shotgun for the foreseeable future.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
One of our short term goals here at Conservation Hawks is to document how climate change is likely to impact hunters and anglers. For example, let’s say you hunt elk in Colorado or you fish for largemouth bass in Georgia and Florida. How will climate change effect your hunting or fishing 10 years from now, or 20, or 50?
We’re going to rely on the best possible science to create all our scenarios, but we’d like to hear from you about where we should start. Quail hunting in the south? Trout fishing in the Rockies? Whitetail hunting in New England? Bonefish in the Florida Keys? Turkey hunting in Pennsylvania and West Virginia? Salmon fishing in Alaska? Please stop by the comment section and tell us what kind of hunting or fishing you’re most interested in. It’s okay if you can’t make up your mind between fishing for smallmouth bass in Minnesota and hunting pheasants in Kansas - feel free to leave us 2 or 3 different suggestions.
A little taste:
At Climate Central, Andrew Freedman put this current stretch of extraordinary warm weather into a broader context:
In a long-term trend that has been linked to global climate change, daily record-high temperatures have recently been outpacing daily record-lows by an average of 2-to-1, and this imbalance is expected to grow as the climate continues to warm. According to a 2009 study, if the climate were not warming, this ratio would be expected to be even.
Hawks are vigilant, passionate and protective. They tackle problems head-on and they advocate for strong, direct action. That’s true across the board, whether you’re talking about military hawks, fiscal hawks, foreign policy hawks, deficit hawks or conservation hawks.
Doves usually fly in the other direction. They’d rather discuss a problem than do something concrete. They want to study the situation and then study it some more. They’re worried about the possible consequences of their actions, and they almost always favor a passive approach.
Hawks feel they have a real stake in the fight. They want to protect our country, our way of life, our American heritage and our kids and our grandkids. They’re conservatives in the true sense of the word. Our most famous conservationists were all hawks - Aldo Leopold, George Grinnell, Theodore Roosevelt ...
History hasn’t treated doves so kindly. One of the 20th century’s most famous doves - Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime minister who attempted to appease Nazi Germany with diplomacy - was succeeded by an equally famous hawk, Sir Winston Churchill, who led the fight against Hitler’s war machine and told England, "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."
And now we find ourselves drawing lines in the sand yet again. On one side are the doves who tell us there is no climate problem. Or if there is a problem, we’re not responsible for it. Or if we are responsible, there may not be anything we can do about it. In any case, the situation needs more study and more discussion before we can even think about addressing it.
On the other side are the hawks. We recognize that the climate threat is real, that the science is solid, and that it’s our sacred duty to defend our sporting heritage and pass on our hunting & fishing to future generations. Furthermore, we understand the true nature of this fight. Climate change is a moral issue and those of us fighting for our future and our kids & grandkids hold the high ground.
So here’s the question of the day in black & white. Where do you stand? Are you a conservation hawk or a climate dove?
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
I’ll jump in last.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
A 2012 Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that public belief in global warming has risen to its highest level - 64% of Likely Voters - in two-and-half-years. This follows the steep decline in public belief that followed the Climategate in November 2009, which itself followed a period in 2008 when public belief in climate change was rising.
The belief-disbelief disparity occurs also along partisan lines. A survey updated in 2011 by the Oregon Global Warming Commission showed 84% of conservatives are skeptical about climate change, whereas 97% of liberals believe global warming is probably happening. The survey further reports the 97% of liberals believe we should do something about it while 69% of conservatives think we should not.
So, are we collectively going to decide if global warming is real, by doing year-to-year polls of voters who have shown a bias based on their political affiliation or are changing their minds one year to the next? That’s a hell of a way to deal with arguably the greatest environmental dilemma facing the globe.
Instead of polling voters, why not “ask” those not subject to political debates – fish and wildlife. While we cannot directly ask them their views, state fish and wildlife biologists do conduct field investigations on the distribution and abundance of fish and wildlife species that are forced to live in habitats that meet their life cycle requirements. In that way, species are giving their response by where they choose to live. If one habitat no longer will support a species, it must move to another that does. It cannot debate habitability in the public square, and it votes by adapting, migrating or dying.
The late Thomas Kimball, past director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife and later executive vice president of the National Wildlife Federation, said in 1981: “Man…is an integral part of the animal kingdom. As our environment becomes less livable for the subjects of the kingdom, it also becomes less suitable for the king. The status and trends of species diversity and the condition of fish and wildlife populations are the litmus tests of a healthy human environment.”
It is often said that opposition to action on climate change stems from the perceived harm to our current fragile economy. The American people are rightfully concerned about imposing government constraints that might limit their ability to earn a living in a place they want live, doing the things they want to do, at a level above poverty. We demand the economic freedom to make choices about our own lives.
Fish and wildlife have their own economy, one measured by both the energy gained from living in suitable habitat with adequate food and the energy expended in day-to-day survival rather than by eight-hour days and dollars in the bank. A species cannot survive long when energy expense exceeds energy intake. Poverty would be defined by net energy loss and would likely lead to species extirpation.
Man and wildlife – we’re all in this together. We need to believe that.
Posted by Rod & Gun contributor Bill Geer.
Here’s a little taste:
“SOME 20,000 YEARS AGO, THE AREA THAT WE NOW know as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness in Everglades National Park (Florida) was not graced by the sprawling “river of grass,” dense mangrove forests, and the rich waters of the Florida Bay. With a sizable amount of Earth’s water locked up in continental ice caps, the present bay was high and dry, the nearest ocean shore was miles away, and the land supported pine woodlands and scrub. On the other side of the continent, the parched salt flats of today’s Death Valley Wilderness (California) were drowned under a 600-foot-deep (183 m) lake. The Yosemite Wilderness’s (California) stately forests, lush meadows, and high mountain lakes were buried under hundreds of feet of ice.
What a difference a few degrees can make!”
“As of January, the Earth's atmosphere contained 393 parts per million of carbon dioxide. And rising.”
“To understand why that's a very sad number, it helps to know that from the dawn of human civilization until the 19th century, the concentration was about 275 parts per million, and that many scientists believe 350 parts per million is a sort of tipping point: Irreversible impacts and feedback loops start to kick in, and the cost of repairing the resulting damage from such things as sea-level rise and droughts not only skyrockets, the cost of adapting to the changes does too. But we've already sailed past that point. And we're heading inexorably toward another one that's far worse: 450 parts per million, the truly scary level at which 3.5 degrees of warming above pre-industrial global average temperatures is locked in. The predicted result: centuries of weather extremes, drought-fueled global famine, mass migration, the vanishing of low-lying islands and territories as sea ice melts away, wide-scale species extinction and other horrors too numerous and depressing to list.”
“To global warming denialists, the above paragraph constitutes the "alarmist" perspective on climate change. Never mind that it is backed by a wealth of research, the world's most state-of-the-art climate models (whose accuracy in predicting the recent effects of climate change has been repeatedly demonstrated), the national science academies of the world's developed nations (including the U.S. National Academies), the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, among other prominent academic and scientific organizations. To the denial set, these groups and individual scientists are part of a global liberal cabal that is scheming to impose its radical environmentalist agenda on the entire planet via government programs to cut carbon emissions; as proof, denialists point to their own research and studies -- typically funded by fossil fuel interests, performed by non-climatologists and published in non-peer-reviewed journals -- that pick away at the scientific consensus. You wouldn't think such an anti-intellectual and grossly irresponsible movement would have much success in the court of public opinion. You would be horrifyingly wrong....”
If our scientists are right and we don’t address climate change while there’s still time to do so, the longterm costs are obvious. We will lose some, or all, of our hunting and fishing. Depending on location, we may experience coastal erosion and flooding, severe storms, longer and more severe droughts, catastrophic wildfires, etc. These impacts will make it more difficult to grow food, provide clean drinking water and engage in profitable business activities. We will make our oceans more and more acidic. We will see more government intrusion at every level, and we will have fewer personal liberties. We we will become engaged in foreign conflicts as fossil fuels supplies deplete and populations shift across political borders to move away from climate disasters. Oh, and our kids & grandkids will curse us for sticking our heads in the sand.
If we do address climate change and our scientists are wrong - meaning there is no climate change and we act on it regardless - we will save most, or all, of our hunting and fishing. We will wean ourselves away from our dependence on fossil fuels. We will stop sending $1 Billion per day abroad to fund oil-rich despots and terrorists. We will greatly reduce air pollution and mercury poisoning. We will stop acidifying our oceans. We will create a new renewable energy economy that will drive America forward for the foreseeable future. We will reduce our military burden and disentangle ourselves from the politics of Middle Eastern oil. We will make it easier on ourselves to grow food and procure water. We will limit government intrusion in our lives. And with a little luck, our kids & grandkids may even say a few nice things about us.
So we have two alternatives. One saves our hunting & fishing and gives our kids & grandkids a fighting chance - while driving our economy forward - yet greatly reduces profits for the fossil fuel industry. The other ensures continued profits for the fossil fuel industry at the cost of everything we care about, including our kids & grandkids and our hunting & fishing. Those are our choices.
Here’s the bottom line. There are no viable reasons to ignore climate change. None. As “Guest” rightly pointed on in the comment section, “as a practical matter, you'd be a fool to deny climate change ...” Truer words have never been spoken.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
Not too long ago, M.I.T. put out a study showing that temperatures could rise by more than 10 degrees F. this century if we don’t get a handle on our greenhouse gas emissions. That kind of temperature increase would destroy fish and wildlife habitat all over the planet and leave humanity in (and on) a world of hurt. Our kids and our grandkids, not to mention our hunting & angling, would be completely screwed.
I think we can all agree that trashing everything we care about and leaving our children a sick planet is a really bad idea. Still, the debate rages on. Is global warming real? Are the climate projections correct? Are the scientists right?
Now set those questions aside for a second and focus on a more important one instead. What kind of risks are we willing to take with our future?
Last I heard, our top scientists were saying with 90% or greater certainty that the earth’s climate is warming and that humans are causing much of the temperature increase. But let’s throw out that 90% figure. For argument’s sake, let’s stipulate that the odds are lower and drop them all the way down to 50%. Is it moral for us to reduce our future to the toss of a coin? Heads we win, tails we’re toast? Is that a wager we’re willing to make?
You know what? The heck with 50%. Let’s cut it all the way down to 20%. Let’s say there’s only a 20% chance that those incredibly smart scientists at M.I.T. have their projections right. Would you let your kids play in the road if there was a 20% chance they’d get run over by a truck? Would you let them swim across the river if you knew there was a 20% chance they’d drown?
Here it is in black & white. None of us can say for sure what’s going to happen in the future. We can offer educated guesses, but the reality is that we simply don’t know. But no rational human being should be willing to bet everything we care about - every last thing; our hunting and fishing, our kids and grandkids - that our scientists are wrong. That’s the act of a madman or a sociopath.
There’s not a person alive who can guarantee with absolute certainty that our scientists are mistaken. And since that’s the case, the folks on the other side of this issue are literally asking us to play Russian Roulette with our future. I don’t give a damn how many bullets are in the revolver; there’s no way I’m putting that barrel against my son’s head and pulling the trigger.
Climate change is a moral issue. It’s the moral issue of our time. We don’t need to focus on scientific certainty. We simply have to ask ourselves if we’re willing to wager everything we care about - our hunting & fishing; our kids & grandkids - that our experts are wrong. I’ll tell you one thing right now. I’m not going to make that bet.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
There are a number of steps we’re going to recommend - for example, we should all be planting more trees, which pull carbon out of the air and lock it up for decades or centuries - but we’d like to hear your thoughts, too. You can leave your suggestions in the comment section or e-mail them to us via our Contact Us page. We’ll feature some of the best advice in a future post, and we’ll also make it a permanent addition to our website.
1) If new scientific evidence arises that casts doubt on the scientific consensus, and if either a majority or a large minority of climate scientists say we need to reexamine our views, then I will be happy to follow suit. We are focused on the science here at Conservation Hawks. If our climate scientists come out and say they’ve been wrong, then we will follow their example.
2) If the empirical evidence that I see on a daily basis changes dramatically, and if no theory consistent with current climate change science explains these changes, then I will reexamine my views.
And now for the second part of this post. I’d like to ask our climate doves if they’d answer a similar question. What, specifically, would have to happen for you to reverse your opinion on climate change and begin to support Conservation Hawks?
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
(You’ll need to scroll down just a bit to start reading.)
1) Why are millions of acres of forest dying in the western U.S. and Canada?
2) Why are our mountain snows coming later and melting earlier?
3) Why did the U.S. National Academy of Sciences recently call anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change a “settled fact?”
4) If climate change wasn’t responsible, why was 2000 - 2009 the warmest decade ever recorded?
5) Along those same lines, if climate change wasn’t responsible, why was 2010 the warmest year ever recorded?
6) Why do 97% to 98% of climate scientists agree that our climate is warming and that humans are responsible for much of the temperature increase?
7) Why has the fossil fuel industry spent so much money trying to convince us that the science on climate change is not yet settled?
8) What would you tell your kids & grandkids if you dismissed the threat from climate change and we lost our hunting and fishing because we failed to act in time?
Click here and take a look for yourself. And while you’re at it, read the rest of the “Climate change science: a simple table” post. It’s a dandy. A tip of the hat to A. Siegel at Get Energy Smart! NOW!
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
Lets back up and take this whole issue from the beginning. Most hunters and anglers have a healthy respect for experts. If we want to learn about the best rifle for Montana whitetails, or the best catfish bait for a river in Minnesota, or the best fly rod for West Virginia brook trout, we’ll ask someone who has a reputation for excellence in those areas.
The same thing applies if we get sick or hurt. If I break my ankle, I’ll go see a doctor; preferably one who’s worked on broken ankles before. It doesn’t make much sense to haul my broken ankle to the guy who works on my truck engine or the gal who cuts my hair.
Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a serious hunter and a serious angler, but I’m not a scientist. Consequently, when I want to learn about climate change, I go right to the experts - the climate scientists. And when I want to learn how climate change is likely to impact fish & wildlife populations, along with fish & wildlife habitat, I ask fisheries or wildlife biologists. Pretty simple, right? Ask the experts.
Now there’s always the chance that different experts will have different opinions, and if that happens, it can definitely muddy the waters. But that’s not an issue with climate change. 97% to 98% of climate researchers agree that climate change is real and that people are major contributors to the problem. That’s beyond a consensus. That’s what the National Academy of Sciences calls a “settled fact.”
So when someone is concerned that Conservation Hawks accepts the science of climate change, I’m always a little confused. What’s the alternative? Do we ignore NASA and NOAA and the National Academy of Sciences? Do we ignore the 97% of climatologists who are telling us that we have a major problem? Do we take a huge chance with our hunting & fishing, and with our kids & grandkids, because “only” 97% of the experts agree that climate change is a serious issue?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but that kind of willful disregard for science strikes me as the worst thing we can do. It also makes me wonder why some people are so willing to put our sporting heritage at risk. What are their motivations, and what do they stand to gain if we lose our hunting & fishing?
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
In the meantime, please share your questions and comments here on the Rod & Gun Club blog. It’s the easiest way to engage your fellow Conservation Hawks, and it’s the best way to make sure we address your questions in a timely manner.
Skin in the game. You know what that means, right? We need a stake in the outcome. We have to pay to play. So here’s what I’ll do - gladly, with joy - for the person who convinces me that our Conservation Hawks team is mistaken about climate change, and that we should be looking elsewhere for the biggest threats on the horizon.
I own a handsome 12 gauge shotgun my wife gave me for my birthday a while back. It’s a Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon and in spite of my questionable shooting skills it’s killed a fair number of birds over the years. So here’s my challenge to you. I will auction off my Beretta and donate the proceeds to the charity of your choice if you can convince me that I’m mistaken about climate change.
Or, if you’re not big on charities, I’ll give you the shotgun. No strings, free & clear; It’s yours. All you have to do is convince me - with logic, or passion, or whatever means you have at your disposal - that I’m wrong about climate change, or that my fellow Conservation Hawks and I are wasting our time on the issue.
Just so we’re clear - I will listen to your arguments. You have my word. Hell, I’d love to learn that my concerns about climate change are completely unwarranted. But you’re going to have to be more persuasive than our climate scientists, and that won’t be easy.
One other thing. Fair is fair, and we all need to have a little skin in the game. So if you’re positive that climate change is a hoax, come to our Rod & Gun Club blog, jump on any Monday Open Thread and make your case. Only before you do, please visit our website, hit the “Donate” button, and pony up your end of the bargain. A few bucks in the kitty will show that you’re serious about your views and deserving of a thoughtful response.
Here’s the truth. We have to get past the question about whether climate change is “real.” If we’re going to come out the other end of this tunnel, hunters & anglers need to start working together on some very difficult problems. But first we have to have an open, honest, informed discussion and put this issue to rest. Let’s start that discussion now.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
Click here to read Skin In The Game, Part 1 - A Big Tent
Click here to read Skin In The Game, Part 2 - Wasting Time
So if you’re a climate dove or a climate denier, come to our Rod & Gun Club blog and convince me that I’m wrong about climate change. Explain why I’m mistaken. Take the weight from my shoulders and help me to go back to the things I love, rather than feeling like I have to push this huge boulder up a never-ending hill. I’ll thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
Click here to read Skin In The Game, Part 1 - A Big Tent
No, we’re old fashioned. We just want to pass along a healthy natural world to our kids and grandkids so they can experience the same quality fishing & hunting we enjoy today. And in order to do that, we need a big tent. We need to reach every kind of sportsman: the fly fishers and upland bird hunters, the cane pole folks who fish for crappie & bream, the bass anglers with their fancy boats and gear, the elk hunters who dream of distant, snow-dusted mountains, the whitetail and turkey fanatics, the spey rod steelheaders, the muskie guys and walleye gals and the quiet men who run hounds far from the beaten path. We need them all; we need to reach them all. Whether they believe that climate change is the biggest, gravest threat out there, or whether they’re not quite sure what to think, or whether they’re convinced that global warming is a load of crap (or a communist plot); regardless, we need them.
So I want to invite every one of you, whether you agree with us or not, to join the conversation here on our Rod & Gun Club blog.
Posted by Rod & Gun Club contributor Todd Tanner
And would you be willing to bet your favorite shotgun that you know what you’re talking about?