is environmental chair for the West Chester Fish, Game and Wildlife Association
is Pennsylvania outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation
If hunters and anglers had the power to decide, then
Pennsylvania would be tackling global warming at a swifter pace. But it seems our politicians need a bit more convincing.
Maybe they aren't paying attention, but we sportsmen and sportswomen know our climate in Pennsylvania is changing because we see the impact.
Pennsylvania has 80,000 miles of rivers and streams, and thousands of lakes and ponds. Water temperatures are rising, and unusually torrential rains are damaging some of our finest trout streams. Outfitting and other related businesses are hurting as a result.
In 2005 and again in 2007, high water temperatures in the Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers caused substantial fish kills. Fishery scientists say high water temperatures lower the levels of dissolved oxygen, which stresses the fish and makes them vulnerable to bacterial infection.
One such infection in 2005 claimed nearly 50 percent of the Juniata's juvenile smallmouth bass. That same year, six miles upstream from Harrisburg, the water temperature in the Susquehanna was 90 degrees Fahrenheit. That's bath water, not bass water.
Unless Congress takes action now, we could see average summer temperatures in Pennsylvania increase between 7 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit during this century. Scientists estimate this increase could be accompanied by extreme precipitation changes, with some parts of the state seeing a 50 percent increase in rainfall, while other parts would experience drought. Wetlands could dry up, causing steep population declines in ducks, geese and other migratory waterfowl.
Warmer temperatures would mean migrating birds would find it unnecessary to fly south through Pennsylvania to find open water and food, meaning our hunting opportunities for mallard, wood and black ducks could evaporate with the water.
Nearly 80 percent of sportsmen and sportswomen polled in the state recognized the need for immediate action. So far, 63 Pennsylvania hunting and fishing groups, fly shop owners, and sportsmen's guides have joined more than 700 groups from all 50 states in urging immediate action by Congress on global warming.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) needs to follow the lead of sportsmen in his state and support passage of the Climate Security Act, which is cosponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (D, Pa.). A vote could occur in early June.
Scientists say we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent per year by the year 2012 if we are to avoid the worst adverse impacts from a warming planet. We have no time to lose.