Conservationist urges Iowans to speak out on climate change

10-25-2011 // Grant Rodgers

This excerpt is from DesMoines Register.

Conservation leadership for the 21st century can come in many different forms, and it remains essential that new leaders raise their voices on issues such as climate change, a prominent conservationist told a Des Moines audience on Tuesday.

Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation, visited the Des Moines chapter of the Izaak Walton League on his tour of the state in celebration of the organization’s 75th anniversary. Schweiger addressed audiences in Council Bluffs, Cedar Falls and Sioux City on the threat of climate change and the importance of becoming involved.

Schweiger said the threat is real. Organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have warned that many animal species will face an increased risk of extinction should the Earth continue to warm.

“We’re looking to make a pitch to Iowans that it’s our time. We’re here to urge folks in this state and this region to be a strong voice for change,” he said.

Schweiger suggested that recent flooding and higher levels of precipitation in Iowa were signals of the planet’s warming. He told the audience that he was surprised, as he drove across Iowa, to see many farmers installing tile drainage, even on higher ground where moisture hasn’t traditionally affected crops significantly.

Schweiger also relayed stories of tundra fires in Alaska and droughts in Texas and Arizona to show the scale of climate change.

“Nature is giving us a very clear and strong warning that we are overheating our planet and the systems that we’ve relied on for many years are under more stress,” he said.

For Schweiger, the hope to stem the changes and the threat to wildlife lies in a new group of conservationists working on several fronts, including development of alternative sources of energy, an effort he believes can affect the economy as well as the environment.

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