Last September we devoted an expanded issue of Audubon to climate change and the existential threat it poses to the birds we love. The Common Loon. The Burrowing Owl. The Bald Eagle. All species at risk in the face of rising temperatures. I continue to hear from you about that memorable issue of the magazine.
We challenged the Audubon network to tackle this crisis head-on, and I am humbled by your initiative and your success. You’ve organized meetings and events reaching tens of thousands of people—including decision makers in federal, state, and local governments—to call for change. Advocates at Western North Carolina Audubon led a birds-and-climate preach-in around Earth Day. Audubon conservation experts put our science to work by identifying the parts of the eastern forests in Vermont that are most important to birds in the face of rising temperatures. Audubon teen climate advocates visited Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee to explain why they—and birds—need climate change solutions.
Progress is happening on the national stage as well. In August the Environmental Protection Agency finalized its rule to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, a solution Audubon activists supported.
In 2014 the solar industry added jobs at 20 times the overall national rate of employment increases, and solar installations were up more than 30 percent over 2013. Bill Gates doubled down on clean, renewable energy by committing $1 billion of his personal wealth to innovations in this space.
These and other solutions cannot come quickly enough; the same week Gates announced his investment, new research suggested that warming is already halfway to what scientists agree is a perilous tipping point: 2 degrees centigrade. Past this threshold, experts warn, damage to ecosystems will be irreversible, and we’ll see extinctions of up to 30 percent of the Earth’s plant and animal species.
Audubon’s members tell us our birds and our kids need bold, visionary leadership and action. The era of solutions is upon us. Now, more than ever, you’re what hope looks like to a bird.
To see examples of the Audubon network combating the climate threat to birds, click here.