New Book Addresses Climate Change in the Adirondacks

July 8, 2010

WCS ecologist Jerry Jenkins shows the global problem of climate change hitting home in the Adirondacks and how the region can fight back.

As climate change moves into gear, it will influence the world’s different environments and economies in many ways. WCS ecologist Jerry Jenkins puts one place under the microscope: the Adirondacks. In Climate Change in the Adirondacks, Jenkins describes the challenges one particular community will likely face in coming decades and what its people can do to help prepare for life in a transitioning climate.  

If current climate trends continue, the Adirondacks will become increasingly warm. The book, published by Cornell University Press, shows readers how this region of northeastern United States will transform biologically, economically, and culturally.

Changes might include die-offs of trees such as the red oak, white pine, and sugar maple. The area’s iconic wildlife species, including the moose, spruce grouse, and common loon, may migrate north to cooler climes. With less snow, the ski season would become shorter. Income from the many other winter activities that the area is known for might also decline.

But the author offers hope.

"The Adirondacks, now the best protected and one of the most intact temperate-forest landscapes in the world, are seeing the onset of potentially devastating change and may not survive another century in their current form,” says Jenkins. “The change, however, is not inevitable: climate change is caused by fossil fuels, and can be slowed by eliminating them.”

Steps taken at the regional scale toward energy independence and renewable resource use can be stepping stones for nations to achieve their carbon emissions goals. In this vein, Jenkins outlines how the people of the Adirondacks can work towards becoming a negative-carbon community, by improving the energy efficiency of homes and workplaces, and utilizing available renewable resources. Such measures could lessen a community’s carbon footprint while boosting the local economy.
“There are plenty of people around who are prepared to ignore climate change data and the negative impacts forecasted for the future of our region,” Jenkins said. “There are far fewer, however, who prefer to pay $12,000 to drive 100,000 miles when they can pay $6,000. Once people realize the technology exists for them to save serious money with renewables, they get excited and make the switch.”

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