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.
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.
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.”