WASHINGTON - February 7 - Global warming is the most significant threat to America's fish and wildlife since the unrestrained market hunting and rampant destruction of habitat a century ago. The threats to the natural world faced by earlier generations gave rise to leaders in the halls of government, people like Theodore Roosevelt, who had the will to take bold and thoughtful action to secure our wild places and the benefits they provide the people of this nation. Addressing the challenge of global warming requires that our leaders follow in the footsteps of Roosevelt and take the same kind of determined action to protect our wild heritage. Today's hearing is a step in that direction.
We can secure the conservation achievements of the past and the outdoor traditions they support. We can ensure that wildlife is still found in the precious, wild reaches of our nation. We can prevent hundreds of thousands of acres of existing national wildlife refuges from being lost to rising seas and we can maintain America's over $100 billion sport hunting and fishing economy we must confront the threat of global warming by working our way towards a new energy future.
The certain and drastic impacts of global warming make it even more imperative that we take immediate action to protect important fish and wildlife habitat from other degradation. For example, since it is estimated that global warming has the capacity to eliminate as much as 90% of the wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region we must create incentives and implement protections that keep these vital wetlands from further destruction by development. These remaining wetlands have become even more precious and the area known as "America’s Duck Factory" will cease to produce the abundance of wildlife we enjoy unless we better address all of the impacts.
Likewise, with the expected changes in precipitation patterns in inland regions and the predicted rise in sea level along coastal areas all bird, land and aquatic species will be affected. Drought, flooding, changing river patterns and decreased snow pack will affect all wildlife in North America. Public land managers must incorporate the effects of global warming into their planning.
A new energy future that ends our dependence on the dirty oil and coal technologies of yesterday can be built around the recommendations of leading scientists who last week issued a report showing that we can use the smart energy solutions we have today - solar, wind and efficiency technologies - to achieve a large share of the 60% - 80% reduction in U.S. global warming emissions that we need to realize by mid-century if we are to stave off the worst effects of global warming. Building this future means securing jobs: keeping jobs to boost the outdoor industry and creating jobs for those who will manufacture America’s new energy infrastructure and put it in place.
The technology is here. The workers are ready. The polar bear, the musk ox, the walrus, and the caribou are counting on us. What we need now is leadership in Washington and a willingness to follow in the footsteps of Roosevelt and take decisive action to protect the wild legacy we leave our children.