New report highlights need to act now to protect wildlife from global warming

Defenders of Wildlife releases "Beyond Cutting Emissions: Protecting Wildlife and Ecosystems in a Warming World."

(11/13/2008) - WASHINGTON, DC – The new administration of President-elect Barack Obama heralds a new era for U.S. action to address the threat of global warming, and the effects that climate change is already having on America’s wildlife and natural places. A report released today by Defenders of Wildlife provides a roadmap for how the next administration can help America’s wildlife and ecosystems survive the impacts of global warming.

“With new leadership in the White House, we can now tackle head-on the impact that global warming is having on our wildlife and wildlands,” said Robert Dewey, vice president for government relations at Defenders of Wildlife. “Global warming is already threatening America’s wildlife and natural systems. While reducing global warming emissions is vital to protecting our communities and environment, it is not enough.”

The report, Beyond Cutting Emissions: Protecting Wildlife and Ecosystems in a Warming World, addresses the pressing need to make wildlife and natural resources more resilient to global warming. Serious damage is already being seen in our ecosystems and wildlife populations, ranging from melting of polar ice caps to increased drought and warming of rivers, lakes and streams. The basic life-sustaining services provided by ecosystems, such as purifying air and water and pollinating crops, are being compromised, threatening human communities around the country and the world. 

“Any plan to address global warming must include steps to protect the natural systems that sustain us all,” said Dewey, who discussed Defenders’ proposals on a teleconference this morning. “We are confident that with adequate funding, planning, increased scientific capacity and policy direction we can restore and safeguard America’s wildlife and natural places and secure a healthier future.”

Beyond Cutting Emissions details why a new conservation paradigm – one that has ecosystem resiliency at its core – is necessary if wildlife, natural resources and human communities are to survive the changes wrought by a warming world.

This report includes the following key recommendations:

• Clear federal policy direction to make addressing global warming’s impacts a top priority of federal, state and tribal natural resource agencies;
• A coordinated national strategy for addressing this complex and cross-cutting challenge;
• Enhanced scientific capacity to build the foundation of knowledge about core ecosystem processes necessary to guide effective management actions; and
• Significant and sustained dedicated federal funding to implement the conservation measures necessary to ensure fish, wildlife, and natural ecosystems survive the unavoidable impacts of global warming, which should be achieved by dedicating a portion of the revenues from a climate cap-and-trade system.

“Global warming is the greatest conservation challenge of our time,” Dewey concluded. “We look forward to working with the Obama administration to take early and swift action to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard wildlife, wild places and future generations from the threat of global warming. The price of inaction is too great.”

Read Beyond Cutting Emissions: Protecting Wildlife and Ecosystems in a Warming World.

Listen to an audio recording of today’s teleconference, which also covered other 2009 wildlife priorities.

For more information about Defenders’ priorities for the new administration, read our transition report, Wildlife Conservation Agenda for the Next Administration.

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Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities.  With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come.  For more information, visit www.defenders.org.

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Contact(s):

Erin McCallum, (202)772-3217