Can you imagine Indiana without the Baltimore Oriole? An alarming new report by National Audubon Society scientists reveals that orioles and hundreds of other birds are threatened by global warming. Many could go extinct without decisive action to protect their habitats and reduce the severity of global warming.
Audubon ornithologists spent seven years studying 588 bird species and found that 314 face significant risk in a warming world. Of those, 126 species are at risk of severe declines by 2050, and a further 188 species face the same fate by 2080, with numerous extinctions possible if global warming is allowed to erase the havens birds occupy today.
If we do nothing, many of these birds could disappear in our children’s lifetimes. That would be a less joyful future by itself, but we know that losing our birds is not the only consequence of global warming. Extreme weather, fierce wildfires, agricultural disruptions, sea level rise and greater threats to our health, these are consequences we’re already seeing today.
To me, this is personal. This is about who I am and what kind of world I want to live in and leave behind. We have an imperative to act. And the Audubon study, despite wildly clanging alarm bells, also contains plenty of reason to hope. It’s a road map to a better future for birds and for ourselves.
Broadly speaking, we need to do two things. We need to protect the places birds need today and the places they’ll need in the future. And we need to do everything we can to reduce the severity of global warming.
Audubon is no stranger to protecting bird habitats. The Tippecanoe Audubon Society chapter owns and protects three nature preserves along and near the Eel River. Today, that work takes on even greater urgency. The places birds live today may be bridges to the future.
Audubon’s study also reveals areas that are likely to remain stable for birds even as climate changes, enabling us to identify “stronghold” areas that birds will need to survive in the future. This is a powerful new approach that will help us make smart conservation investments in places that will help birds weather the intensifying storm of climate change.
We know that we must make progress in reducing pollution and use energy more efficiently. The Audubon Society strongly supports the EPA’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. Actions like these will help reduce the severity of global warming, creating a brighter future for birds and the rest of us. We know that if birds are in trouble, we are too. Everyone who cares about birds and the well-being of our community has to take that seriously.
We know there is hope. Let’s work together to create a better future for all of us.
Tippecanoe Audubon Society board member