This really is not a topic that affects only modern day hunters and anglers. If you are a person that finds themselves enjoying the outdoors you most likely find beauty, peace, and a lot more when outside surrounded by pure wilderness. The more you devote time to the outdoors the more you start to see the beauty and the complexity of it. When it is misused or mistreated it can be painful and heart breaking to witness. That is how it feels for me when it comes to climate change. Climate change does not uniquely effect modern day hunters and anglers, like other topics I will discuss in this series. I do feel that hunters and anglers are a group of people that will start and probably already have seen its affects on the areas they access and the animals they target. I know I have. So what can a modern day hunter and angler do to help make a change? Well lets discuss that and see if something can be done.
You know, I could get into the data that shows climate trends. I could site many different articles and research papers that show how humans have been affecting the earths climate for decades. That is not the point of this. I feel like it is something that everyone knows is happening and debating whether or not it is real is wasting time, energy, and resources that could be better utilized in more productive means. Instead let us talk about why a modern day hunter and angler should be more involved in the topic of climate change and what can be done as an outdoorsman and outdoorswoman.
Some people may wonder how melting glaciers and warmer seasons will affect where they hunt and fish. I understand it is hard to see the effects of a global issue on a small local scale at times. Like the parable of the frog being boiled to death in a pot that was slowly heated up in order to avoid causing the frog to leap out for its life, climate change can be seen the same way to how it effects your local ecosystem and places you might enjoy. The change to the landscape and ecosystem is small at times but progressive and might be too late once we realize the full scale of the change it caused
Climate change can cause physical change to the landscape through more frequent rainstorms that cause above average erosion. This erosion is just worsened by more extreme wildfire season during the year. The fire stripped areas can cause not only terrain altering landslides but flash floods that can cause even more damage. Flash floods can make huge changes to landscapes in such a short time due to its power and amount of debris that it can collect and displace. As anyone can guess this can affect the fisheries and the different fish species that enjoy these fisheries.
Research has been showing affects that climate change is having on animals across the board. From salt water to fresh water. From sea level to high altitude terrains. Animals are trying to adapt to earlier Spring weather. They may even have to try and adapt to less harsh winters or warmer summers. The ticks and fleas that seem to die off in the winter seem to survive easier, making it harder to survive them as well as any disease the parasites might be vectors for. Since animals and their success can be closely tied to their landscape and the access they have to necessities, the change in their landscape can impact their chances for survival throughout the year and seasons.
These are huge changes that are happening. Things that just one person making a change in their own personal lifestyle, although good, does not have the impact that we would like to see. So what can be done? Now do not mistake my previous statement for criticism. I personally have been making changes that I feel are not only ethical but I feel are on par with cutting back my carbon footprint. I encourage you all to do the same. Look at your lifestyle and see what can be changed or gradually altered to help have a better impact on the environment. I believe individual change is valuable and should not be over looked.
Nevertheless, I feel it starts with the companies and industries that contribute most to pollution and carbon emissions. I am not trying to say, "Oh, those big companies are to blame." I feel that companies that have large supply chains have a greater impact. It is the nature of having a large company. Now I am not purposely ignoring the fact that there are countries in the world that pollute like crazy and are responsible for a good chunk of the world's pollution. It is harder to hold these countries responsible and that is why I am focusing on the corporations that may not only have a national reach but also a global reach. That is why I feel these larger companies need to be held more accountable and be more responsible. This is harder to do due to the scale of some of these companies but it is possible.
So what can be done? First is by supporting organizations and companies that have committed to making changes. Now I know it can be pretty impossible to scrutinize every company you directly or indirectly support but it does not hurt to do your research on the most common ones you support. There are resources online that can help you find more information. One of these is We Are Still In. We Are Still In is a website that has lists of companies that have made commitments to work together to make changes that impact climate change in a positive way. These companies started this after the United States was pulled out of the Paris Agreement. I have found it very helpful and full of good information.
The second thing that can be done, at least here in the United States, is holding your elected officials responsible. Writing to them and letting your voice not only be heard as a vote but as someone who supports the idea of having a clean thriving planet. I have done a lot of this through Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. I have been a member of this organization because I love their drive to stand up for public land and access to that public land. As a member I get updates on not only state proposals and issues that will affect public land in my state but also on a national level. They offer help to contact my representative and offer more information about issues that affect me as an outdoorsman and conservationist. I urge any of you, even if you may not be a hunter or angler, but you are someone who enjoys the outdoors to look into this organization and really consider joining them. If you think about it, protecting public access to public land and gaining more access to public land goes hand in hand with keeping the public land clean and thriving for the wildlife. In fact there have been many monthly events to pack out what trash you find in the backcountry when you are out. Again I cannot recommend them any more. Their actions speak for themselves.
Climate change is affecting you and I in ways that are seen and unseen right now whether you like it or not. It is something that we can no longer ignore in hopes that it will stop. It may seem like a distant thing that will happen slowly or something you will not be around to witness so why bother. Or you just do not think it is happening or is not a big deal. As an outdoorsman I feel like it is my responsibility to take care of this planet as much as I can. Why? Because I want this to exist and thrive well beyond my life time. A quote I have adopted and like to live by is, " It is not ours, It is just our turn". Climate change is part of this responsibility that we have. So lets try and work harder to make a change that allows this planet to thrive for generations.