Polar Bear Family

"What are you doing about global warming?"
The question is increasingly urgent amid new reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in which dozens of the world's leading scientists conclude unequivocally that warming of the Earth's climate is underway, is a result of emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, and is already causing serious consequences that will worsen as emissions build up. 

The reports are sobering. Projected impacts include rising sea levels threatening coastal populations, increasingly extreme weather conditions, worsening drought and wildfire potential in the American West, and greater likelihood of floods in the East. Humans and wildlife may face expanded disease outbreaks and disruption of ecosystems. Scientists even project that a continuing rise in global temperatures may speed up to 40% of the world's species along a path toward extinction.

The Time to Act is Now
"Some of the consequences are already inevitable and we will have to find ways to deal with them," says Audubon President John Flicker. "But the good news is that we can avoid many of the worst outcomes by cutting global warming pollutants--provided we start right away. Rising public awareness and the change in congressional leadership offer new opportunities for progress." 

Scientists say our best hope for avoiding the worst consequences of global warming lies with cutting greenhouse emissions by two percent each year, steadily moving toward the total needed reduction of 60-80 percent by mid-century. That will mean abandoning the worst fossil-fuel technologies of the past and adopting clean, renewable energy solutions to drive economic growth and opportunity for the future. Increased energy efficiency and conservation efforts will be needed too. Together, these measures will not only curb our contribution to global warming, they will also reduce air and water pollution, habitat damage from mining and drilling, and a host of other harms caused by fossil fuels. Many of the needed technologies already exist--now we just need to build the political and individual will to take action. Th at is where Audubon comes in. 

"Our members and Chapters have always been credible and forceful agents of conservation," says Flicker. "People know their information is based on sound science, not political doctrine. So when they talk, politicians listen. When they take action, their numbers add up to serious change." The Audubon family, Flicker adds, is "ideally suited" to mobilizing the people who can make a real difference on this issue.

United for Action
Chapters and state offices nationwide are already working to cut global warming pollution at the state and local level. Now we need to build on these efforts across the Audubon network to help pass federal legislation capping and reducing emissions, boosting vehicle fuel economy, and implementing new renewable electricity standards. "We've got solid, workable measures introduced in the Senate and the House, so our representatives need to hear a clear and constant call for passage from their constituents," says Audubon Policy VP Betsy Loyless. 

The Washington, DC-based policy office is working closely with state programs and Chapters to mobilize grassroots support in key swing districts and states. In collaboration with other conservation groups, Audubon staff are developing public education, policy and communications campaigns to equip and mobilize our shared grassroots to build support for global warming solutions. Local input, expertise and creativity are essential to success. 

New Audubon research suggests there is great opportunity to broaden the involvement of birders, nature lovers and others who may not normally consider themselves to be issue activists. Focus group interviews with Center visitors, IBA volunteers, Christmas Bird Count and Backyard Bird Count participants show they want access to clear, factual information and consider Audubon a credible source. Most important, many are ready to help get the word out and move people and policy-makers to action. 

Audubon staff are working with the National Wildlife Federation to develop introductory presentations for local use. These will help interested Chapters tell a clear and compelling story about what global warming means to local target audiences, and what can be done. Information shared will open the door to opportunities from advancing beneficial federal legislation and state policies, to taking individual action such as switching to mass transit or using energy saving appliances and lighting. 

Flicker notes that working together as a network, the Audubon family can really make a diff erence on global warming. "Some thought we couldn't save the Arctic refuge or the Endangered Species Act, but we pulled together and helped stop attacks on both," he adds. "Now, global warming represents an unprecedented threat to all we've worked to accomplish for birds, other wildlife, and for our children's future. When someone asks what we're doing about it, let's tell them Audubon and its members are united in taking the policy and personal actions that will protect the nature of our world for future generations."

We'd love to hear from you if you have an interest in joining the Global Warming campaign. For details, please contact: Connie Mahan, Director, Grassroots Outreach, or 202-861-2242, ext 3036