wildlife corridor

Who Knew Climate Change and Policy Was So Complicated?

By Frank Landis, Chairperson Conservation Committee

We seem to be hearing that in all sorts of unexpected contexts right now (I'm writing this on May 1st), but I'm going to focus on climate change and policy again. The issue I'm struggling with is the North County Multiple Species Conservation Program (NCMSCP, because you need more acronyms). I'm on the steering committee, and the documents (hopefully) will be out this fall. We'll be dealing with it for a while, and I wanted to air the issues so that we can all start thinking about it, because it really is complicated.

Problem one is climate change. According to a recent National Geographic article, half of 4,000 species surveyed are moving towards the poles, about one mile per year on land on average (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/04/climate -change-species-migration-disease/ ). We'll argue endlessly about whether this is true for all land species, but the point is that the climate is changing, it will continue to change, species are responding to it, and what we're fighting right now is massive societal inertia to determine how fast and how far the climate swings from 20th Century normal. The nasty part of even extreme climate change isn't the quasi-stable end state (basically like the Miocene), it's how extreme the peak heat is between now and then (a few centuries of something possibly like the end Permian Great Dying, or more likely, the end Paleocene). That peak heat is the extinction-maker we want to avoid if at all possible. That aside, the point is that the world is already changing, it will continue to change, and we're talking about what will suffer, not how to stop the change.