Monday, February 8, 2010

Conservationist: Colorado sees climate change effects

Judith Kohler in the Aspen Times via the Associated Press: The head of one of the country's largest conservation groups is warning that Colorado is in the "bull's eye of climate change" and says the state's hunters and anglers are seeing firsthand the effects of warmer temperatures. Larry Schweiger, National Wildlife Federation president and chief executive, is visiting Colorado and other states to rally support for federal legislation addressing climate change by mandating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

The U.S. House has passed a bill, but the Senate hasn't considered one yet. "We're working very hard right now to help the Senate move a climate bill to final passage," Schweiger said, "so I've been spending a lot my time going into important states."

Schweiger said he believes the National Wildlife Federation provides an important voice on the issue because the group's political make closely parallels the country's. "We have as many Republicans as we have Democrats and independents," he said last week. The group also includes hunters and anglers who have been relating for a while the changes they see in the streams, vegetation and wildlife because of warmer or dryer weather, Schweiger said. "They see when the water temperatures go up high enough, that they're killing off the cold-water fisheries in the mountains or the Great Lakes," Schweiger said.

Scientists have reported threats to the great stretches of sagebrush in the West that support pronghorn antelopes, sage grouse and other wildlife. Schweiger writes in his new book on climate change, "Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth," that woody plants moving north as the weather warms could crowd out sagebrush.

Colorado is already in the "bull's eye of climate change," Schweiger said, because of the 3 million pine trees ravaged by bark beetles. Biologists say the beetles, which burrow under the bark and sap a tree's life, have been able to proliferate without long bouts of subzero weather to kill them….

A Colorado Springs spray-painted sign above a sewer warning people not to dump waste into the sewer because it leads to a stream. Shot by David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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