Statement from The Nature Conservancy on the Obama Administration’s Climate Study

“The message of this report is clear: climate change is real, it’s happening now and we must act immediately to confront it,” says the Conservancy’s Jonathan Hoekstra

WASHINGTON (RPRN) 6/17/2009–The Obama Administration today unveiled a comprehensive report detailing the devastating impacts climate change will have on communities across the United States. The Nature Conservancy released the following statement from Jonathan Hoekstra, Director of the Conservancy’s Climate Change Program, in response to the study.

“The message of this report is clear: climate change is real, it’s happening now and we must act immediately to confront it.

“The report draws a vivid picture of what climate change means for each and every American: It threatens our economic stability, our natural resources and our way of life.

“Based on solid science and compiled by the country’s top climate experts, the report also comes at a critical time as Congress is set to make history and pass the country’s first climate change bill. This report provides clear evidence that we must act now.

“In many states across the country, climate change will render our treasured iconic landscapes nearly unrecognizable for future generations. If we act now, we can prevent this from happening. If we do not, our children and grandchildren will live in a very different world than we do today.”

The Nature Conservancy has dozens of climate change scientists working across the United States who can speak about the impacts climate change is having right now on the local businesses, lands, waters and communities.

These scientists can also discuss on-the-ground projects the Conservancy has launched across the United States to strengthen our natural resources so they – and the communities that depend upon them for food, water, income and daily survival – will be able to overcome the threats of climate change:

Albemarle Peninsula, North Carolina
Rising sea levels and the intrusion of salt water threaten to rapidly change the Albemarle’s farms, fishing communities, estuaries, marshes and tourist industry. The Conservancy is working to counter these damaging impacts by shoring up oyster reefs to moderate wave intensity and shield against storm surges. We are also installing water control structures that reduce intrusion of sea water and encourage freshwater flows into the sound. Planting bald cypress along the coast will form a standing barrier to storms, and as rising seas change salinity of the peat soils, fallen cypress will make a natural barrier, all the while providing cool hiding places for fish and shellfish.

Penobscot River, Maine
Increased rainfall from climate change threatens to cause serious flooding along the river and damage to roads and other infrastructure. More volatile warming and cooling weather patterns also threaten to disrupt fish migrations. But an agreement developed by a local energy producer, the Penobscot Indian Nation, conservationists and state and federal agencies led to a project to remove two river dams, install a fish passage at a third dam, and create a fish by-pass around a fourth dam. The project will increase populations of six fish species while also increasing hydropower generating capacity at under-utilized dams. In the face of climate change these cost-effective solutions that benefit both nature and people have huge implications for balancing green energy production and restoring fish migrations around the world.

Long Island, New York
Long Island’s shores have some of the most highly developed lands in the coastal zone. Much of this private property is only inches above sea level, putting communities, as well as millions of dollars in public and private funds, at great risk. Despite these threats, building along Long Island’s coastal areas is rapidly growing. Working with partners The Nature Conservancy developed a web mapping tool that illustrates future flooding scenarios caused by sea level rise and storm surges for the south shore of Long Island. The tool provides communities, land managers and government agencies with easy access to information for their planning, zoning, acquisition and permitting decisions in the face of climate change.

New Mexico
In many parts of the Western US, fire seasons have expanded by weeks each year because of higher temperatures and changes in snowmelt. Dried-out forests are more prone to wildfire and infestations of insects and pests. Removing overgrown brush and trees with machines or through controlled burns can dramatically mitigate this climate impact. In New Mexico and elsewhere in the West, The Nature Conservancy is working with government partners to use these techniques to reduce the risk of dangerous wildfires.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.

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Karen Foerstel
The Nature Conservancy
http://www.nature.org
917-652-2642
347-689-3548