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When Climate Change Is Close to Home

May 15, 2008

It seems that global warming/climate change is less of interest to most Missourians than is clean water close to home. At least that’s what a recent survey by a professor at University of Missouri suggests. And does that surprise you? Why wouldn’t people worry about the things closest to home?

skyI attended a conference of federal and state conservation agencies in March. The first day’s discussion was on global warming/climate change. The bottom line is what I mentioned in an earlier blog—that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than ever recorded in past 600,000 years and it’s going to grow to some degree even if we change our behaviors now. What that will mean includes melting of ice in glaciers, rising of sea levels along many coasts and increasing overall temperatures worldwide. More volatile patterns of lots of rain at one time and long periods of heat and drought and others could really create a mess.

And that mess would be local and personal. Maybe Missouri doesn’t have to worry about the ocean covering our shores in the next century, but we certainly have seen the problems that too much rain all at once can create.

This may seem like talk of a distant future, but it appears certain to affect lives within the coming decades. And it will take more than a few good people doing the right thing (such as low energy use in everyday life) to turn things around.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is just one state agency and doesn’t have authority for our energy choices. So that’s not what this blog is about. But we are responsible for protecting our fish, forests and wildlife—to help them continue into the future. But in a changing climate, that will be a constantly changing scene. It will be a challenge when a stream goes dry and what was a cool, damp place becomes more arid so the kind of life that depended on that niche has nowhere to go, nothing to eat. Our job will be to help Missourians adjust where they can, to make people aware of what we can do together to keep a healthy mix of animals and plants—even if they are a changing mix.

For a perspective on what global warming may mean for hunters and anglers, a new publication and related website called Season’s End was produced recently by a variety of national conservation-related organizations. It goes well beyond the broad and general to what will it mean for different kinds of wildlife and in a variety of regions.

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