According to a new report by the National Audubon Society, two-thirds of America’s birds are threatened with extinction from climate change.
The report, titled Survival by degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink, studied 604 North American bird species using 140 million records, including observational data from bird lovers and field biologists across the nation.
"A lot of people paid attention to last month's report that North America has lost nearly a third of its birds. This new data pivots forward and imagines an even more frightening future," said David Yarnold, CEO and president of Audubon.
Audubon has also released a zip code-based tool, the Birds and Climate Visualizer, to help users understand the impacts to birds where they live making climate change even more local, immediate and personal for millions of bird fans.
"Birds are important indicator species, because if an ecosystem is broken for birds, it is or soon will be for people too," said Brooke Bateman, Ph.D., the senior climate scientist for the National Audubon Society. "When I was a child, my grandmother introduced me to the Common Loons that lived on the lake at my grandparent's home in northern Wisconsin. Those loons are what drive my work today and I can't imagine them leaving the U.S. entirely in summer but that's what we're facing if trends continue."
Dr. Bateman and her team also studied climate-related impacts on birds across the lower 48 states, including sea level rise, Great Lakes level changes, urbanization, cropland expansion, drought, extreme spring heat, fire weather and heavy rain.
"We already know what we need to do to reduce global warming, and we already have a lot of the tools we need to take those steps. Now, what we need are more people committed to making sure those solutions are put into practice," said Renee Stone, vice president of climate for the National Audubon Society. "Our elected officials at every level of government must hear from their constituents that this is a priority. Audubon is committed to protecting the places birds need now and in the future and taking action to address the root causes of climate change."
Audubon has outlined five key steps:
- Reduce your use of energy at home and ask your elected officials to support energy-saving policies that reduce the overall demand for electricity and that save consumers money.
- Ask your elected officials to expand consumer-driven clean energy development that grows jobs in your community – like solar or wind power.
- Reduce the amount of carbon pollution released into the atmosphere. In order to drive down carbon emissions, we will need innovative economy-wide solutions that address every sector of the economy – like a fee on carbon. Another option is to address carbon emissions one sector at a time like setting a clean energy standard for electricity generation.
- Advocate for natural solutions, from increasing wetlands along coasts and rivers that absorb soaking rains to protecting forests and grasslands that are homes to birds and serve as carbon storage banks, and putting native plants everywhere to help birds adapt to climate change.
- Ask elected leaders to be climate and conservation champions.