Conservation Corner

February-March 2020

Dave Weeshoff

by Dave Weeshoff

As I finalize my presentation “Climate Change and Its Effects on Birds Worldwide” for the Morro Bay Winter Bird Festival, and the San Fernando Valley Audubon January General Meeting I am even more concerned with the plight of the 10,000+ bird species on our fragile planet.

My presentation starts with a review of the October 2019 report in Science Magazine that declares that each day there are about 3,000,000,000 – three BILLION – fewer North American birds than there were fifty years ago – an impact that very likely is proportionately replicated on the other continents. The causes of this decline are myriad; including introduced invasive species (plant and animal) of all kinds (e.g., outdoor cats), habitat destruction, pesticides, rodenticides, window strikes, and the list goes on. This report establishes a contemporary baseline for the future.

 I then discuss the causes, and the effects, of Climate Change in sufficient detail to lead the audience to two dramatic conclusions:

  • The structure, function, and resilience of all global ecosystems are changing rapidly, sometimes in unexpected ways, due to Anthropogenic Climate Change, and
  • Environmental changes due to anthropogenic greenhouse emissions are occurring faster than animals (e.g., birds) can adapt.

I briefly describe Audubon’s newest study, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink, which illustrates in extraordinary detail the future of North American birds under a changing climate and  includes a first-of-its-kind zip code-based climate tool: Audubon’s Birds and Climate Visualizer.

And finally, I review some things each of can do to assist our wild avian friends in their struggle to survive.

Our greatest obstacles to addressing these issues are best presented in an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times by Christopher Knittel, Oct. 28, 2019 which outlines “Five reasons climate change is the worst environmental problem the world has ever faced”. While I paraphrase below, please “Google” the original article:

  • The pollutants that contribute are global – ones that do their damage no matter where they are released.
  • Much of their damage is in the future, and we feel we can defer the remedies (we can’t).
  • The pollutants (and their severe consequences) can’t be easily and directly linked to a single, specific “smoking gun”.
  • Developing countries contribute a share of the pollution that drives it, and can’t readily afford to reduce their emissions.  Developed countries have to help – they have gotten us to this place.
  • The pollutants (e.g., carbon dioxide) are tied directly to crucial aspects of people’s lives, and we don’t want to change our lifestyles

Despite the overarching points made by Mr. Knittel, we all must aggressively address the causes of anthropogenic climate change, as individuals and as a species, now.  We must organize and act decisively, now.

Please, go to www.Audubon,org for the Audubon report and to learn what you can do.  And, as usual, please call me at (818) 618-1652 or email Dave.weeshoff@SFVAudubon.org with questions, comments, criticism, or to enlist in our conservation activities on behalf of our feathered friends.



December 2019-January 2020

By Dave Weeshoff

As an ardent bird lover like you, I was excited to learn of Audubon’s newest study, Survival by Degrees: 389 Bird Species on the Brink, which illustrates in extraordinary detail the future of North American birds under a changing climate. Using the same climate models as 80 countries, plus 140 million bird records – including observational data from bird lovers nationwide – the report reveals the effects a warming climate will have on more than 600 bird species through the end of the century. The report includes a first-of-its-kind zip code-based climate tool: Audubon’s Birds and Climate Visualizer, which shows how climate change will impact local birds and our community – and ways you can help.

Audubon’s science shows that the majority of North American bird species – even familiar, beloved birds like the Wood Thrush and American Robin – are at risk of extinction from climate change.

An important takeaway from Audubon’s new climate report is that if we take aggressive action now, we can help 76% of vulnerable species have a better chance of survival.

One of the most important things you can do to fight climate change is also one of the simplest: Talk about it. Research shows that discussing global warming with family and friends reinforces that the crisis is real and the science unequivocal. And yet, nearly two-thirds of Americans say they rarely or never have those conversations.  For help in clarifying your personal message, the Audubon website has a “Guide to Climate Action” section outlining where to begin and how to ­amplify your efforts to make lasting change in the world.

As another example of what you can do, right now, Congress is considering a bill – The Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act of 2019 – that would help jumpstart the development of important technology to keep our electric grid resilient and reliable as we phase out fossil fuels and make way for clean, renewable energy sources. You can help by asking your members of Congress to cosponsor the BEST Act to invest in a cleaner tomorrow.

Please, go to www.Audubon,org for the Audubon report and to learn what more you can do.  Climate Change is an existential threat to all life on our planet – no exaggeration – and each of us can do our part to minimize the impacts and the consequences.

And, as usual, please call me at (818) 618-1652 or email Dave.weeshoff@SFVAudubon.org with questions, comments, or to enlist in our conservation activities on behalf of our feathered friends.