• Climate Change in the Adirondacks Warns Upstate New York Climate, Could Become As Warm As Georgia in Coming Decades
  • Wildlife Conservation Society scientist’s latest book creates a blueprint for Adirondack communities to become leader in renewable energy to stave off climate change

ITHACA (July 9, 2010) –A landmark book released by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Cornell University Press finds that if current trends continue during the coming decades, climate in the Adirondacks will dramatically warm and result in a widespread cultural, biological, and economic transformation of the region.

Climate Change in the Adirondacks, written by Wildlife Conservation Society ecologist and researcher Jerry Jenkins, provides a comprehensive look at the effects of climate change in the forest-rich upstate New York parklands region. The author warns those effects likely include a massive die-off of northern trees such as the red spruce, white pine, and sugar maple and the loss of iconic wildlife such as moose, spruce grouse, and common loons.

Human livelihoods and culture are at risk as well: Home to the Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid in 1932 and 1980, the Adirondacks face warmer winters with little snow cover that threaten
many of the outdoor activities on which the local economy is based.

Jenkins finds that such impacts are likely given the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and current rates of energy use worldwide, but offers concrete steps that residents in the Adirondacks and elsewhere can take to help stem the rate of warming.

“Reliance on fossil fuel use is deep-rooted in local economies all over the world. We cannot change that fact or remedy the problems arising from related carbon emissions overnight,” said Jenkins. “But we can do a lot about the emissions of the Adirondacks and by acting locally, we can do our part to affect global change and preserve the Adirondacks we know today.”

“While warming temperatures threaten to redefine landscapes globally, different regions face a unique set of challenges resulting from climate change and each will need to strategize its response based on those circumstances,” said Dr. Jodi Hilty, Director of WCS’s North American Program. “Jerry’s book not only provides a thoughtful analysis and blueprint for action for the Adirondacks, it can also serve as a model for other regions as well.”

The book suggests that, with serious effort, the Adirondacks can be energy independent in 20 years. Jenkins recommends specific state policy changes that include subsidies for conservation and guaranteed rates for producers of renewable electricity to help to wean society off of fossil fuels. Such measures have already been enacted and shown to be success­ful in Europe, Vermont, and in Ontario, Canada.

It is not only lawmakers in Albany who need to make changes, however. Currently, the Adirondacks region is economically dependent upon outside sources of fuel for heating, transportation, and power. Jenkins outlines steps that local citizens and communities in the Adirondacks can take to move the region to­ward energy independence. These include increasing energy efficiency in homes and workplaces and utilizing available renewable resources to positively impact both the region’s energy footprint and its local economy.

Jenkins notes that many of the recommended changes are already cost–effective and others could pay for themselves in five or ten years with an improved policy structure. “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.”

Scott C. Smith: (1-718-220-3698; ssmith@wcs.org)
Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)

For interviews with Jerry Jenkins, please contact the WCS contacts provided above.

For more information on Climate Change in the Adirondacks, including order information, contact Jonathan Hall at jlh98@cornell.edu.

Global warming threatens wildlife everywhere. Tigers in Indonesia, gorillas in the Congo Basin, and jaguars of Central America are already feeling the effects of climate change. Coral reefs are dying at alarming rates, leaving the sea turtles, sharks and tropical fish that depend on them in peril. Join WCS in asking Congress to save already endangered wildlife and their habitats by adequately funding efforts to address tropical deforestation and natural resource adaptation. Visit: www.wcs.org/climate-takeaction 

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to: www.wcs.org/donation