Defenders in Action: New Warning on Warming; House Acts

© Ian Shive/Aurora Pictures

© Ian Shive/Aurora Pictures
Are there any global warming naysayers left out there? If so, the bipartisan study by the United States Global Change Research Program, a joint scientific venture of 13 federal agencies and the White House, should remove their last doubts.

“Climate change is happening now, it’s happening in our own backyards, and it affects the kinds of things people care about,” said Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), when the White House released the final report this summer.

Across the nation, citizens are seeing, and in many cases feeling, the effects of a changing climate, according to the report: heavier downpours in the East and Midwest, more powerful tropical storms in the South, erosion of ocean coastlines, drought in the Southwest, shifting migration patterns of butterflies in West.

What the scientists remain uncertain about is the speed of climate change and severity of these effects and others into the future. Fires, insect pests and invasive weeds are increasing, already affecting more than 33 million acres of forest habitat, according to the report.

“The tremendous number of examples and data presented in the report about projected and existing climate change impacts reinforces what those of us who have been working on climate change for years have repeatedly warned about: Global climate change threatens the very ecosystems upon which all of us depend for survival,” says Jean Brennan, chief climate change scientist for Defenders of Wildlife. “Hopefully it will serve as a much needed wake-up call to our leadership and Congress to take action now to address both the causes and the effects of climate change on our communities, wildlife and natural places—before it is too late.”

To that end, Defenders praised the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 in June. The historic legislation places a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions—the major cause of the increase global temperature—and also addresses the negative impacts that global warming is already having on America’s natural resources.

“This is a critical first step toward making smarter energy choices, strengthening our economy, regaining a position of environmental leadership in the world and addressing the causes and damaging impacts of climate change on our economy, ecosystems and human and wildlife communities,” says Defenders’ President Rodger Schlickeisen. “We look forward to working with the Senate and the Obama administration to further increase the funding necessary to safeguard America’s ecosystems, wildlife and natural resources, and to enact the strongest climate and energy bill possible—as soon as possible.”

Find out more about global warming.

More Articles from Fall 2009

Roads and development spell trouble for Florida's panthers
On a remote island in the Great Lakes, wolves and moose struggle against global warming's effects
Scientists try to get a grip on one of America’s least-abundant and most colorful shorebirds
The winds of change have been blowing strong in Washington since last year’s election. Nowhere is this more evident than in the tackling of the problem of global warming.
There Oughta Be More Otters; As the World Warms; Original Twittering Still Popular; Expecting to Fly
The America’s Wildlife Heritage Act aims to ensure that the government manages national forests and other public lands by making the health of ecosystems a priority.
In a fresh start for forests, a federal court in June overturned the Bush administration’s last-ditch effort to weaken protections for wildlife on the country’s 175 national forests and grasslands.
It took more than two decades and more than a million federal dollars to bring gray wolves back from the brink in the lower 48 states.
Feeling the Heat with Jeff Corwin; Victory for California Wildlife; Throwing a Brick at the Wall
Alexandra Siess finished a hard day’s work retrieving nets used to catch and then count, measure, tag and release diamondback terrapins in the Chesapeake Bay
It’s topsy-turvy—California’s Mojave Desert—a place where sheep prefer rocky cliffs over grassy fields.
Is it possible that the red-throated loon could still tell us something about a changing climate?

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