The Patterson Report

Global Warming is real

Global warming is real. There is no doubt.

The world is round. Scientists solved this debate, too, several hundred years ago.

As a conservationist, the global warming issue and its effect on wildlife and wildlife habitat is a preeminent concern for me. As a lifelong duck and goose hunter, I'm selfishly concerned about global warming because at its worst, it could ruin waterfowl hunting and at the least, it could disrupt the migratory habits of millions of ducks and geese.

I still subscribe to Aldo Leopold's point of view that ". . . the opportunity to see geese is more important than television . . ."

Most sportsmen, it seems, agree with the great majority of climate scientists who are warning us about the reality and dangers of global warming.

A survey of more than 1,000 sportsmen done in April 2006 by Responsive Management and paid for by the National Wildlife Federation, found that almost three out of every four hunters and anglers believe that climate change will affect their hunting and fishing in future years. That's pretty significant from a group that's never been accused of being tree hugging, Chicken Little the-sky-is-falling, environmental wackos.

Mike Anderson, director of science and adaptation at Ducks Unlimited Canada, says "It's time to stop thinking about climate change as tomorrow's problem."

It's here today. Warming during the last 50 years is causing glaciers to melt and recede. Anderson says sea level rise and its associated inundation of shallow coastal wetlands is inevitable. The only uncertainty, he says, is "How much?" Loss of these shallow coastal wetlands can cause a decline in resting areas and reduce the variety of food sources waterfowl depend on.

The National Research Council, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, reported to Congress in June 2006 that there was "sufficient evidence" to say that the last few decades of the 20th century were the warmest of any comparable period during the past 400 years. Manmade (the science says it is) or not, the average global temperature has warmed by one degree Fahrenheit during the last century.

Carbon dioxide, a heat trapping natural gas that is a direct byproduct of burning fossil fuels, remained relatively stable in the earth's atmosphere (180-220 parts per million) for thousands of years. It jumped dramatically during the past 200 years to an average of 379 ppm. That's the highest it's been at any time during the last 420,000 years.

North America's "duck factory" is the Prairie Pothole Region of Canada and the U.S. The thousands of small glacial depressions that dot the grasslands landscape are the nursery rooms for the continental duck population.

Research tells us the variability of the continent's dabbling duck population from one year to the next is most strongly influenced by events that occur during the breeding season. The likely result of higher temperatures and drier conditions will be fewer potholes filled with water and less time potholes that have water are able to maintain it. Increase the odds of longer more severe drought periods because of global warming, and scientists estimate a broad range of wetlands losses (no change to a 91 percent loss) in this area by the 2080s.

Every duck hunter knows what a drought cycle in the Prairie Pothole Region does to decrease continental duck numbers. Research models indicate that wetlands losses due to global warming in the Prairie Pothole Region could reduce breeding ducks in the region by 9 percent to 69 percent.

A range of significant declines in wetland breeding habitat and duck breeding numbers is predicted in other key duck and goose breeding areas like the northern boreal forest, the tundra and other artic areas. Throw in migration pattern changes, climate induced habitat losses and the resulting increases in water needs for humans that would simultaneously occur, and the continued health of duck and goose numbers in North America becomes seriously imperiled.

The issue of global warming is not going to magically disappear. It is here and must be dealt with now. On July 30, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (in Massachusetts vs. EPA) must now consider regulating greenhouse gases.

State and federal agencies with waterfowl population and habitat management jurisdiction are already trying to factor the effects of global warming into their management decisions. The same is true for conservation organizations working in waterfowl and wetlands habitat conservation.

And as always, individual citizens can impact congressional and local decisions regarding global warming by actively engaging and commenting on policy debates.

The National Wildlife Federation and its conservation partners have a Web site for anyone to learn more about global warming and its effects on wildlife at:


You can help now. Click here and follow the 10 tips to reduce global warming.

Ten Tips you can Take to Combat Global Warming

1. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs.
2. Install a clock thermostat to save heating and cooling energy at night and when no one is home.
3. Change or clean furnace and air conditioner filters regularly to keep heating and cooling systems running efficiently.
4. Set your water heater to a lower setting or call a service person to adjust it for you.
5. Wash your laundry in warm or cold water instead of hot.
6. When shopping for home appliances and electronics, look for the Energy Star label; when purchasing a car, buy the most fuel-efficient model that meets your needs.
7. Choose alternative transportation methods whenever possible, such as taking public transport, carpooling, biking, or walking.
8. Reduce gasoline consumption by keeping your tires properly inflated and your engine tuned up.
9. Recycle aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic, cardboard, and newspapers to help reduce the energy needed to make new products.
10. Contact your representatives in Congress and encourage our government to enact policies to reduce global warming pollution.