(Editor’s Note: The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.)
As many of you know, for years I’ve been an outspoken voice on environmental issues. As a result, I’ve been celebrated by some and ostracized by others. But what some think of me being the messenger is irrelevant. It’s not about the messenger – as much as detractors try to make it out to be – it’s about getting the message out.
I want to start by saying that the debate of whether or not climate change is man-made is over. It’s real, and it’s right here in our faces.
NASA, NOAA, the Pentagon, the American Medical Association, the American Meteorological Society, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Society and many, many more agencies – along with 97 percent of the world’s leading climate scientists from 147 counties – agree that our climate is being altered in a negative way by man-made activities.
The only deniers left tend to be political spokespersons and talk show hosts who are supported at some level by big oil, big coal and others. They have a financial interest in continuing the use of fossil fuels and undermining the progression toward alternative, green energy sources. The ramifications of denial and avoidance of the issue are many and intimidating, but here are a few that we, the angling community, should be especially concerned about:
1. Transforming habitat. Most animal and fish species are highly specialized and dependent upon certain ecological conditions.
2. Shifts in timing. Timing in life events, such a breeding and flowering, are threatened. In America alone, many bird species are laying eggs weeks ahead of the norm, meaning that the young might hatch before insects and other food sources are available.
3. Rising temperatures. Globally, 2014 was the warmest year in recorded history. Such an upward spiral in temperatures has a direct effect on terrestrial and marine life, especially those creatures that have a small tolerance range. Even one degree over normal can kill some coral reefs.
4. Spreading pests and disease. Climate change will allow new pathogens, parasites, and wildlife and fish diseases to spread more rapidly. This can pull predator and prey relationships apart.
I could go on and on with statistics and reasons why, but the point of this blog is to help bring awareness to the outdoor community, since we are so intimately connected to the health of our environment.
One of the things I struggle with as a professional angler is the pretty large carbon footprint that I and many others leave behind. We burn a lot of fuel in our rigs, and we consume a lot of goods in the pursuit of our sport.
Given this, I think it is only responsible for us as a community to try and make up for this in other areas. Here are a few suggestions I’d like to make to everyone:
1. Adopt the model of “re-use/recycle/reduce” in all aspects of your life. Living with this philosophy alone will help tremendously.
2. Educate yourself on the reality of climate change. Don’t get sucked into the talking points of the deniers. I will trust a NASA climate scientist any day over a politician who is beholden to some fossil fuel company.
3. Real change can only come through the political process. Email your state officials and let them know you support alternative energy initiatives and proactive climate change initiatives.
4. Get active. Anglers and hunters tend to be apathetic to environmental issues, which is ridiculous because the future of the sport they love hangs in the balance.
Personally, I’d like to see our sport have a 50-hp, four-stroke outboard limit, setting the example that the outdoor community is serious about reducing its carbon footprints. That would be a great start.
It’s time to start thinking about the future of fishing 100 years from now, and not just our next tournament.
Thanks for reading.