American Elk, competing for status on roadside. Image credit:Los Alamos National Lab.
I don't run across many people who doubt climate change is happening. I do, however, meet folks who --while they know that glaciers are melting at a scary pace -- are unaware that global warming is already affecting the world's wildlife, and that there's evidence to prove it.
That's why the Sierra Club sees an educational opportunity in the upcoming Ken Burns documentary series, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," which premieres on PBS on Sunday, September 27.
We're organizing house parties around the country a week before the premiere, on Sunday, September 20, and providing hosts with a free sneak-preview DVD of the series, so they and their guests can take action to protect wildlife and wild places from climate change.We're asking participants to connect the dots between the admirable legacy of our national parks and the survival of their inhabitants, to plants and animals in other wild places.
Bruce Hamilton, the Sierra Club's deputy executive director, talked about this in our Climate Crossroads blog:
Right now we're mainly seeing this at the poles and the tropics. That is where the vast majority of extinctions are projected to happen. But you see shifts in range already taking place here in the United States. For example, a researcher has found that while you'd ordinarily find the Edith's checkerspot butterfly in Baja California, because of temperature increases it can no longer live there, so it's steadily migrating north. But just north of Baja, you get into Tijuana and San Diego and the Southern California metropolis, and that's not good butterfly habitat. As a result, you're seeing a crash in the population as it tries to move north.
You're also seeing situations where species are changing their phenology. That is, plants are blooming earlier. Insects are emerging or hatching earlier in the spring. Birds are migrating later in the fall and coming back earlier in the spring, or sometimes not migrating at all.
What we need to do — and this is the message we'll be conveying at our Party for Parks house parties — is to encourage public-land managers to do their planning on an ecosystem-by-ecosystem basis. We want to develop the best science available that will tell us what to do. And we want to lobby all of the land jurisdictions within each particular ecosystem -- federal, state, tribal, private -- to get them to cooperate and come up with a symbiotic land-management plan that addresses adaptation to climate change.
You can learn more about the Sierra Club, the Ken Burns documentary, and national parks here: http://sierraclub.org/parks/
And sign up now to host a house party on September 20! Make sure you do it by September 13 so we can send you the free sneak-preview DVD.