Investing in America's Natural Resources
The Urgent Need for Climate Change Legislation
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America is blessed with an abundance of natural resources: from the fertile Great Plains to the stunning coasts teeming with fish, from the vast forests that span much of our country to the unparalleled freshwater reservoir of the Great Lakes. These natural resources are essential for our food, shelter and economic vitality, provide for our physical and spiritual well being, and are integral to what it means to be American.
Since the conservation leadership of President Theodore Roosevelt, millions of Americans have devoted their talents and energies to protecting, restoring and enhancing our country’s natural resources. We have all benefited in countless ways. Now, because of global warming, a century of conservation achievements is in jeopardy.
It used to be that direct habitat destruction was the most prominent cause of decline and extinction of our nation’s wildlife. Soon this will no longer be the case.
Today, global warming has become the single greatest threat to wildlife, and to the natural resources on which we all depend.
The Southeast has experienced water shortages. Western forests have become more susceptible to wildfires, with unprecedented loss of habitat in recent years. Native trout are finding requisite coldwater streams too warm for survival. Coastal habitats are being destroyed by rising ocean levels. Moose of northwestern Minnesota have virtually disappeared due to rising temperatures. Florida’s coral reefs are experiencing more frequent bleaching events.
In the lifetime of a child born today, 20-30 percent of wild plants and animals worldwide are expected to face an increasingly high risk of extinction due to global warming. (Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2007)
With the loss of wildlife will come an unfortunate undermining of America’s connection to the land. Our storied hunting and fishing traditions, and the economic stimulus that they provide to our rural communities, could be compromised beyond repair. Now, we must chart a new course for natural resources conservation, working against the clock to find answers to a problem we have never confronted before – global warming.
The escalating impacts of global warming call for restoring viable habitats and carrying out rigorous scientific research and monitoring to discover new strategies for conserving natural resources. We must be willing to invest the necessary funds now to avoid potentially much higher costs later to restore or replace the natural resources that we all depend upon. Now, Congress has an historic opportunity to help sustain America’s unsurpassed natural legacy for our children and grandchildren.
Scientists tell us that cutting global warming pollution by 80 percent by 2050 is the only way we can avoid catastrophic global warming. Congress should implement a “cap-and-trade” system that reduces global warming pollution by 2 percent annually to achieve this goal. Two percent annual global warming pollution reductions are doable. By doing its part in cutting global warming pollution, the U.S. can generate clean technology jobs at home and market new clean energy technologies world-wide. But, more than reducing global warming pollution is required. We must also invest in protecting natural resources from the global warming that is inevitable due to pollution already emitted and the new pollution that will be emitted.
Under a cap-and-trade program, the auctioning of permits to polluters can generate funding to invest in protecting natural resources from global warming impacts. These investments include developing alternative energy technologies, assisting low income households to make the transition to a new energy future, supporting nations facing the worst threats of rising sea levels, and helping secure the many benefits America’s natural resources provide for our economy and our daily well-being. Congress must take action now to ensure that we will not fail future generations by leaving them a world diminished from the one we know today.
Congress should pass legislation which:
- Reduces global warming pollution by 2 percent annually through 2050 with a cap-and-trade program.
- Invests dedicated financial resources in restoring and protecting natural resources threatened by global warming.
Now is the time to pass global warming legislation.
Find out more by downloading the full PDF of this report, Investing in America's Natural Resources.