Securing a future for birds in a changing climate
Allen's Hummingbird. Photo: David Levinson
Global warming is a serious threat to California birds. A seven-year study from the National Audubon Society released in September 2014 finds that global warming threatens the survival of 170 California species in the coming decades. This includes iconic California birds such as the Brown Pelican, Allen’s Hummingbird, Yellow-billed Magpie, and many others. These are birds that all of us know well from our backyards and from our own experiences in California’s beautiful outdoors.
Audubon California is addressing this challenge by protecting the habitats that we know birds will need now and into the future, and doing what we can to lessen the severity of global warming. We’ll do this work with a variety of partners on the ground and in the halls of the State Capitol and Washington, D.C.
But we won’t be able to rise to this challenge without the involvement of California residents who care about birds. We need people not only to join us in this important work, but to also raise their voices to call for meaningful policy and legislative action on global warming.
More about the Audubon study.
Audubon analyzed more than 40 years of historical North American climate data and millions of historical bird records from the U.S. Geological Survey’s North American Breeding Bird Survey and the Audubon Christmas Bird Count to understand the links between where birds live and the climatic conditions that support them. Of 588 bird species examined in the study, 314 species are considered at-risk. Hundreds of species not previously considered at risk will be challenged to survive in a climate-changed future. Understanding those links then allows scientists to project where birds are likely to be able to survive – and not survive – in the future. Learn more about the study.
Of the 314 North American birds identified by Audubon as either climate threatened or climate endangered, more than 170 commonly occur in California.
Not long ago, we talked about the bigger climate bills being considered by the California State Legislature. Well, add another one to the list. Senate Bill 775, authored by Sen. Bob Wieckowski, will go beyond simply re-authorizing California's cap-and-trade system. This bill will re-imagine key parts of the cap-and-trade program, and offer financial "dividends" to residents. One of the main goals is to do something for communities that have long suffered the burden of air pollution. The entirety of the legislations is well-explained in this piece by Vox.
Audubon President David Yarnold today was quick to condemn President Donald Trump's executive order reversing a number of federal policiy addressing climate change, most notably the Clean Power Plan:
Said Yarnold, “There are numerous paths to reach a clean energy future, but none-of-the-above isn't one of them. The administration is taking off the table our most concrete plans to deal with climate change—but without a single alternative."
Here in California, officials moved quickly to make it clear that they would fight the administration's attempts to back away from this country's progress on climate change. California has aligned with several other states to threaten court action over the administration's moves.
As the Environmental Protection Agency signals its intent to roll back fuel standards for new vehicles, California officials are warning that any attempt to restrict its ability to set vehicle emissions standards will be met with fierce legal opposition:
Any decision to revoke California's federal waiver could spur a major legal fight, and the state has already retained former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. The state will "vigorously participate and defend ourselves" on setting the state's own air quality rules, California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols said.
Automakers reportedly are pressuring the EPA to begin the process of limiting California's ability to set its own standards, which are widely adopted by other states, as well.
Fascinating piece on NPR about the demand from some Southern California communities that their air pollution problems be addressed alongside climate change policies.
Already on a fast-track to building a reliable renewable energy infrastructure, California may soon set its sights on a future that is totally fossil fuel-free. Last week, right at the deadline for new bills, California State Senate President pro tem Kevin De León introduced legislation that will hasten the state's shift to renewable energy. Senate Bill 584 will push up California's shift to 50% renewables by 2025 (five years sooner than our current goals) and 100% by 2045.
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