This image compares the difference between the perennial sea ice minimum area on September 14, 2007 and the 1979-2007 average minimum sea ice. A graph inset in the top left corner shows the decline in annual sea ice area from 1979 through 2008. In 2007, Arctic summer sea ice reached its lowest extent on record - nearly 25% less than the previous low set in 2005. At the end of each summer, the sea ice cover reaches its minimum extent and what is left, called the perennial ice cover, consists mainly of thick multi-year ice floes. The area of the perennial ice has been steadily decreasing since the satellite record began in 1979, at a rate of about 10% per decade. But the 2007 minimum, reached on September 14, is far below the previous record made in 2005 and is about 38% lower than the climatological average.
In Colorado alone, a survey found nearly 2 million acres of forests killed by beetles. According to recent survey, beetle infestations spread to 400,000 acres in 2008 alone. The biggest outbreak in North America is in British Columbia, where 23 million acres have been killed.
One of the greatest concerns about global warming is what it will mean for entire ecosystems – and for the people and wildlife that depend on them. As diverse species respond to global warming in different ways, important connections between pollinators, breeding birds, insects and other wildlife and the plants on which they depend will become disrupted. If the relationships among species and their environment decouple, the consequences can ultimately be disastrous. For example, butterfly caterpillars may hatch before the leaves of their food plants are present or are otherwise unavailable. In the case of the Edith’s checkerspot butterfly, there has already been a climate-driven mismatch between caterpillar growth and the timing of its host plants drying up at the end of the season. Observations of this species in the southern-most habitat range have shown that, in many cases, by the time the caterpillar eggs hatched, the plants were already half dry, yielding suboptimal food sources. This has led to high extinction rates among populations at the southern edge of the species’ range. Making matters worse is the fact that, as the landscape becomes increasingly fragmented due to development, the ability of species to move to find more favorable habitats is that much harder. Recent studies suggest that as many as a million species around the world could be threatened with extinction between now and 2050 if global warming remains unchecked.
Mammals are on the move as well. In parts of the arctic region (such as here on Baffin Island in NE Canada), the red fox has also shifted its range north by hundreds of miles over the past 30 years, which has contributed to the retreat of the native arctic fox. Red fox generally less well adapted to cold (bigger ears, longer limbs – increase heat loss). But warmer conditions (4 degree F increase in northern Canada during 20 th c) has enabled red fox to expand. More aggressive, out-competes arctic fox.
There is also the case with current habitats becoming unfavorable – and species that have nowhere else to go are going to be big losers. In terms of marine species, one of the strongest sentinels is our coral reefs. There has been a growing incidence of coral bleaching, which is caused in part by prolonged exposure of corals to warmer than normal ocean temperatures. While corals normally rely on warm water for their survival, water that is too warm can cause them to lose a type of algae that they host. Without the colorful algae, the corals appear white or bleached. Because the algae provides a source of food for the coral, without it the corals can starve and die. There has been a significant increase in the number and extent of coral bleaching events and emergence of new coral diseases (like black band disease) around the world over the past 30 years, a trend consistent with an increase in average sea surface temperatures. Some shifts as they spawn, but reefs take a long time to build up to current levels of biodiversity. (Another very alarming trend that I will not go into in detail but that deserves a considerable amount of concern is acidification of our oceans – Increased levels of carbonic acid from absorption of CO2 from atmosphere into oceans. Preventing corals, other marine species from forming their protective shells – implications throughout the marine food web).
Let me define “allowance value”. This key to understanding why climate legislation is a big deal for Ches Bay. * Just like under traditional pollution laws like the Clean Water Act, under cap and trade, the government sets a cap on total overall carbon pollution * In the case of cap and trade, Congress sets an annual cap, and the amount of allowable carbon pollution declines each year * Permits to emit carbon pollution (called allowances) are distributed to polluting companies. Typically, some are given away for free - this is usually justified by polluters as necessary &quot;transition assistance&quot; because it is costly for some industries to transition to a low-carbon economy. Most allowances are sold to polluters through an auction. * If a company aggressively reduces its pollution and emits less than the amounts allowed under its permit, it can sell the unused allowances to other polluters. This creates an economic incentive for companies to improve their environmental performance, because they make money by either selling their surplus allowances or by avoiding the need to buy them in the first place. * By auctioning off pollution allowances, the government can generate trillions of dollars over the course of a 40-year program - dollars that can be fix the problems caused by the polluters making the payments. This is known as the polluter-pays principle - we've used it in the Superfund toxic pollution clean program and many other laws. * NWF recommends that these polluter payments be used to achieve a &quot;Clean, Green, and Fair&quot; agenda. Specifically, they should be used to (1) create clean energy jobs and otherwise reduce global warming pollution, (2) help communities cope with the harmful impacts of global warming on wildlife and ecosystems, infrastructure, agriculture, public health and other important societal assets, and (3) help low-income consumers deal with rising costs charged by companies still in the process of transitioning away from carbon-based fuels.
Climate Panel- CCW conference
Federal Climate Change Legislation Safeguarding Ecosystems For People and Wildlife John Kostyack Executive Director, Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming January 11, 2010
Global Warming is Disrupting Aquatic Ecosystems ... in Polar Regions Photo: Larry Master Arctic summer sea ice, Sept. 2007. Source: NASA
... and in Temperate Zones Mountain Pine Beetle Damage, Colorado Photo: Allen L. Thornton Old Growth Tree Mortality van Mantgem et al. (2009)
... and Too Much Water Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Hurricane Katrina
Each Species Thrives in a Climate “Envelope” –What do Do When the Envelope Shifts?
Some Wildlife Species Can Move to More Favorable Climates How to Manage Disassembly and Reassembly of Ecological Communities? How to Manage the “New” Natives?
Some Species Cannot Shift - Due to Immobility or Barriers to Movement
How Climate Change Legislation Will Help Conserve the Chesapeake Bay and Other At-Risk Natural Resources <ul><li>Mitigation : Cap mandates annual pollution reductions; more reductions by providing “allowance value” and “offsets” ($) toward Forests & Agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptation : Allowance value and policy measures to safeguard people and ecosystems from the impacts of global warming </li></ul>
Two Major Steps Toward the Finish Line <ul><li>America’s Clean Energy and Security Act (HR 2454): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cap reduces GHGs by 17% by 2020; $1.7B/ Yr for Natural Resources Adaptation; $1.5B for “General” Adaptation; $ for Forest & Ag Carbon </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act (S 1733): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>20% GHG reduction by 2020; $1.4B/ Yr for Natural Resources Adaptation; $.8B for “General” Adaptation; $ for Forest & Ag Carbon </li></ul></ul>
Natural Resources Adaptation Funding Will Transform Conservation Eligibility for Large-Scale Funding Dependent Upon: #1: Helping Species, Habitats, Ecosystems, Ecological Processes Survive Climate Change & Ocean Acidification #2: Consistent with Federal Agency or State Natural Resources Adaptation Plans
Progress in Moving From House to Senate <ul><li>Key Improvements in S 1733: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All NR Adaptation Funds Not Dependent on Future Appropriators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stronger Definition of NR Adaptation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ General” Adaptation Funding More Likely to Provide Co-Benefits to Ecosystems </li></ul></ul>
General Adaptation Provisions Common to Both House and Senate Bills <ul><li>Focused on “Resiliency” for Built Environment, Human Communities </li></ul><ul><li>States Eligible for Dedicated Funds Upon Approval of Adaptation Plans </li></ul><ul><li>Plans Must Specify Projects and Programs – Must Avoid Environmental Degradation to “Maximum Extent Practicable” </li></ul><ul><li>Federal Role is Primarily Research </li></ul>
Key New Features in S. 1733 <ul><li>Water System Partnerships – funds to address threats to water quantity, quality and reliability </li></ul><ul><li>Flood Control Program – funds for addressing climate-related destruction from flooding </li></ul><ul><li>Coastal and Great Lakes Program - funds for states to address climate impacts in coastal watersheds </li></ul><ul><li>Eligible uses of funds - natural barriers, watersheds, etc. will compete with hard infrastructure </li></ul>
Forest & Ag Carbon Programs: Even More Conservation Funding <ul><li>HR 2454 Provides A Share of Allowance Value, as Well as Opportunities to Sell Offsets, to US Forests and Farms That Store Carbon </li></ul><ul><li>S 1733 Leaves Most Details to Ag Committee –Politics in Senate Favor Even Greater Funding </li></ul><ul><li>Annual Amounts Could Easily Exceed $2B </li></ul>
An Historic Moment <ul><li>Unprecedented opportunity to combat global warming and secure large-scale funding for conservation </li></ul><ul><li>$5B/yr potentially available for Chesapeake Bay & other US ecosystems </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptation and carbon storage programs, with guaranteed large-scale funding, could drive much of future conservation work </li></ul>