NWF Senior Scientist Amanda Staudt says it’s not just long-term damage that’s a concern for plants and animals in Pennsylvania and all over the globe.
“We are seeing and feeling the effects of climate change in our own backyards,” she says. “On our farms, in our forests, right now. And for wildlife, it’s about the impacts that we’re seeing now, not something far away.”
The report says in Pennsylvania a warming climate could decimate populations of fish by making waters in rivers and streams too warm for them to survive, and extreme flooding can spread pests, disease and invasive species.
Also, land animals in the state are finding food sources – vegetation, nuts and seeds – harder to find due to drought.
Staudt says the study shows spring is arriving about two weeks earlier, on average, which means plants and flowers are greening up and flowering earlier, and sometimes that can create a mismatch for wildlife that depend on food availability at certain times.
Staudt adds the answers lie in replacing sources of carbon pollution with other ways to produce energy – wind, solar and biofuels.
“We need to take steps to slow our emission of carbon pollution,” she says. “And we need to take steps to help wildlife prepare for and deal with the types of changes that we’re not going to be able to avoid.”
Staudt says the goal should be a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
“Wildlife in a Warming World at www.NWF.org.