Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;   president@SEVolusiaAudubon.org


November 2014 Prez Sez


UN Global Climate Change Report

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report on Global Climate Change on Sunday, Nov 2.  It is the result of an analysis of a vast archive of studies of climate during the last five years and has some dire warnings.  Among them is that: ‘Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” In addition, the effects of global warming are already being felt in sea level rise, ocean acidification, and more extreme weather events that have begun to affect crop yields and water availability. The report also concludes that :"without additional measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to a very high risk of severe, widespread and irreversible impacts globally." 

Only one problem I can see with this.  And that is the politicians are only worried about the continued influx of campaign contributions from people who are so short-sighted they can’t see  beyond the next quarterly SEC filing which demonstrates their profit and loss and on which their stock price is based.

The problem is not new, and its recognition is not recent. Indeed, an English engineer, Guy Stewart Callendar published a paper in 1938 in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society that showed a well-defined increase in global temperature of 0.9 deg Fahrenheit from 1880 to the mid 1930’s and associated man-made greenhouse gases with the climate change.  Bill McKibben, the author of the first major book on global warming for the general public, "The End of Nature”, published by Anchor in 1987, warned that it's no longer time to debate global warming, it's time to fight it.  The Modern Temperature Trend, a book and blog by Spencer Weart,provides a good history of the study of climate as well as the charts and graphs that scientists have used to summarize their data for the last 80 years or so.

Since then, there has been a lot of talk, some stabs at solar and wind power, some efficiencies in automobile gasoline consumption, a few closings of the most polluting coal plants but not much more.  Instead, we are finding more and more uses for oil by-products and more anymore ways to extract oil from the ground despite its impact on the future of the world. 

To make matters worse, more and more countries are entering the fossil fuels age and we are exporting huge amounts of coal and oil overseas.  And now we recently became net exporters of oil and gas thanks to hydraulic fracturing (fracking). 

Meanwhile, climate changes are modifying habitats.  Blue-winged Warblers are moving North into Golden -winged Warbler’s territories and interbreeding with them to the detriment of the Golden-winged Warblers; The Boreal Forests of Canada are moving northward into the less forbidding arctic squeezing out the Polar Bears and increasing the frequency of mating between Polar bears and Brown Bears; Ice sheets on which the Polar Bears depend to get them out to where their prey is have melted away and the products of Polar-Brown Bear mixing are not as good swimmers as pure-bred Polar Bears.  It also appears that Canada’s forests are expanding down toward our Northwest Coast providing a corridor for Barred Owls to meet and interbreed with the Northern Spotted Owl, a threatened species in the U.S, endangering the Spotted Owl which is more docile than the aggressive Barred Owl.

One would think the interbreeding would be a useful adaptation to the changing world.  However, it is not so if,  like mules - a cross between male donkey and female horse- they are sterile.  In any case, the progeny of hybrids are not as well equipped for survival as the genetically pure animals. 

We need to move the conversation forward.  We need to get our elected officials on board and one of the best ways to do that is to read the National Audubon and Florida Audubon websites and receive their action emails.  Then respond to them as they gather large numbers of signatures to letters and petitions and send them to people with the power to act.  Collectively, we can do more than individually to influence decision-makers.


Don