As our Red Hot and Green series comes to a close, it’s clear – across the country, Americans are taking their own initiative to fight climate change. From changing the way you move to the amount of time you’re plugged in and turned on, even to the way you eat, these steps make a difference toward protecting wildlife and natural habitats who are already feeling the heat. This Independence Day, watch our video playlist to see how people across the country are showing their true colors – Red Hot and Green!
These actions are among many that can reduce the amount of carbon we put into the atmosphere and stop the climate change that is already harming wildlife and their homes. Click here to see more!
The sad truth is, even if we all cut our greenhouse gas emissions dramatically tomorrow, the pollution already in the atmosphere means that climate change will impact our planet for decades to come. But that isn’t a reason to give up! It just means that in addition to taking steps to shrink our carbon footprints, we’re going to have to help prepare our country’s habitats and wildlife for the changes a warming world entails.
Defenders is working to protect measures already in place to safeguard wildlife and ecosystems from climate change impacts, currently under fire by Congress. And we need YOUR help! Stay tuned to see how you can help prevent these attacks from eliminating programs critical to the health of our country and wildlife in a changing climate.
And in the meantime… keep up the good (green) work!
The polar bear is the first species whose listing under the Endangered Species Act is primarily chalked up to climate change. And just yesterday, a federal judge upheld the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision that the polar bear be listed as threatened, and continue to receive the protections afforded by the law. With their sea-ice habitat melting away beneath them, these federal protections may be their best shot at survival.
The outlook is bleak for these animals, but actions like Noah and Alejandra’s give them hope. You can too, by hopping on your bike or finding a bike share program near you. You can save money on gasoline and get a great workout – all while shrinking your carbon footprint and fighting the impacts of climate change!
This may be our final Friday, but we’re not done yet – stay tuned for our grand (green) finale on Monday and see how Americans who take pride in their country are taking part in the effort to fight climate change!
Our Red Hot and Green series may be winding down, but things are heating up in the West. In order decrease the damage done by forest fires, Caitlin and a group of Defenders’ volunteers are raking for raptors!
By clearing pine needles and other flammable forest materials from large trees, they’re protecting habitat for peregrine falcons and great-horned owls in the event of a forest fire.
Like the bald eagle, the use of the pesticide DDT caused American peregrine falcon populations to crash in the 1950s. But with the help of the Endangered Species Act and a ban on the pesticide, the iconic bird made its recovery and was removed from the endangered species list in 1999. But now climate change poses serious threats to this success story and its forest habitat.
Climate change will mean more frequent and intense droughts and forest fires. Photo courtesy USDA
This spring has brought raging forest fires across the West. In Arizona, the Monument Fire has already destroyed almost 30,000 acres of land and damaged 64 homes and businesses. And the future is going to look drier and hotter still. Higher temperatures and increased droughts brought on by climate change will leave stressed forests even more vulnerable to attack by insects and pathogens, and growing numbers of dry, brittle trees pose risk of forest fire. This threatens habitat for a whole range of species, from birds of prey to lynx and wolverines.
Steps taken to help prepare wildlife and natural habitats prepare for a volatile future (like those by Caitlin and Defenders’ volunteers) are more critical than ever. The U.S. House of Representatives has now passed two amendments disabling the ability of government agencies to adapt to the extremes a changing climate will bring. These riders eliminate adaptation funding for programs within the Department of Homeland Security, including FEMA and the Coast Guard, as well as a commonsense USDA policy that says agencies should plan for that future in a way that will prevent food disruptions, massive forest fires and economic hardships. These moves throw caution to [hot and dry] wind.
As summer heats up, most of us want to cool down. But taking advantage of breezy days when the mercury isn’t too high is a great way to cut back on otherwise fired up carbon emissions. Take it from Alli – staying cool for coral!
Alli’s got some great tips on how to cut back on using energy-intensive air conditioning. Not only does she eliminate some serious emissions, but she saves on her electricity bill as well!
Climate change is having serious implications for coral reef around the world. Higher water temperatures cause coral bleaching, a sudden death that occurs when corals expel the algae that normally live inside them, providing them with food and bright coloration. Warmer oceans also make corals more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infection, such as black band disease and purple blotch disease. The loss of coral reefs affects all types of life that depends on the reef for habitat, from fish to sea turtles. And things are only going to get worse. As carbon dioxide emissions rise and the oceans absorb more of the gas, the ocean becomes more acidic; this change in chemistry makes it harder for corals to grow. At high enough acidity, corals can actually start to dissolve.
Alli’s not the only one cutting the power to cut carbon – by going to bed earlier and shutting off the lights, Karen’s powering down for polar bears!
It’s another Red Hot and Green Friday, and this week Nicky is dedicated for Defenders! He’s not only loading it up for lynx, but he’s taking steps to protect wildlife from climate change on multiple fronts.
In addition to saving energy and water by turning off lights and the tap while he’s not using them, Nicky hits on an important (and these days, easy!) way to fight climate change: recycling. Recycling helps conserve energy, minimize pollution and reduce greenhouse gases. If every metal, plastic and glass container in the U.S. was recycled, the energy savings (compared to the mining and manufacture of new items) would be equivalent to 53.5 million barrels of oil. If your town or city doesn’t provide recycling services or you think they’re not good enough, start a community petition to improve them! And if your town or city does recycle, make sure to follow the rules and sort your recycling accordingly.
Warming temperatures pose threats to species like the lynx and its prey, snowshoe hares, which can only survive in a cold environment with lots of deep, soft snow.
When people like Nicky make changes to their lifestyle to protect wildlife and natural habitats from the impacts of climate change, it’s reassuring to hear that the government is taking steps as well. Launched on Earth Day and running for 50 days, “The Climate of Conservation in America: 50 Stories in 50 States” is an effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners to show the many ways in which climate change is already affecting fish and wildlife across America – and what they’re doing to fight it.
Who says you have to go far from home to find good food? Andy’s here to show us an easy – and delicious – way to shrink your carbon footprint right in your backyard – growing carrots for caribou!
Growing your own vegetables (in a traditional garden or even just in pots) and being able to prepare them in your own kitchen can save thousands of miles in transportation that food normally takes before reaching your plate. Not only do you eliminate the shipping miles from where the food is grown (often across the country or even across oceans), but you reduce car trips to restaurants and supermarkets. You pare down your greenhouse gas emissions and save money on gas! (And these days, who’s going to argue with that?) Throw in learning the art of canning or preserving your vegetable harvest and you can have vegetables all year round grown right from your own backyard.
Efforts to cut carbon emissions could not come at a more important time. This week, the International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental organization that advises major economies on energy policy issues, revealed that worldwide carbon dioxide emissions from energy production spiked in 2010, rising to 30.6 gigatonnes (Gt), a 5% increase over the 29.3 Gt released in 2009. (A “gigatonne” – that’s a one followed by 9 zeros - is a pretty abstract number. It’s about equal to the emissions of 200 million cars.)
Defenders’ climate change expert Aimee Delach says this new information means that either emissions need to start leveling off much sooner than 2020, or we will greatly increase our chances of much higher temperature increases – of the sort that will put millions more people at risk of sea level rise, produce heat waves that put to shame the hottest summers of the 20th century and significantly decrease the yields of important crops.
Does this new round of bleak news mean that all hope is lost for preserving a world whose climate resembles that we were born into? Of course not: it means we need to redouble our efforts to convince our leaders that emissions reductions are a worthy national goal. But we can’t just wait for Congress and international negotiations to take concrete action – everyone has a role in reducing greenhouse gas pollution.