If you’ve been paying attention recently, you may have noticed that the fossil fuel industry is doing its best to remove climate and clean energy provisions from President BidenJoe BidenDearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized Pfizer to apply for COVID-19 booster approval for 16- and 17-year-olds: report Coronavirus variant raises fresh concerns for economy MORE’s Build Back Better legislation. When it comes to coal, oil and natural gas, the industry’s short-term profits invariably trump economic stability and a livable future for our kids and grandkids.
At the same time, a broad array of climate-conscious Americans — scientists, students, educators, young professionals, outdoor enthusiasts — are pushing as hard as they can for climate action. They’ve experienced the high temperatures, extreme weather and shifting precipitation patterns of 2021, and they want to address the looming threat to our physical and economic well-being while there’s still time to do so.
Washington, D.C. should not be surprised by the fact that politicians who are in the grip of the fossil fuel industry work to minimize new climate policies or that their climate-concerned counterparts push to shift America to clean, renewable energy. We’ve seen this dynamic play out for decades.
For the first time in memory, though, politicians opposed to climate action risk alienating a key rural demographic: America’s sportsmen and women.
More than 40 Million hunters and anglers reap the benefits of healthy landscapes every time they head outdoors with rod, bow or gun. A century’s worth of vital conservation work has reinvigorated fishAnd wildlife habitat here in the U.S., and iconic species like white-tailed deer and rainbow trout have thrived as a result. Climate chaos is making it difficult to sustain our conservation successes. Without intact ecosystems, America’s robust fish and game populations won’t survive for long.
Anglers and hunters who are successful pay attention to the natural world. It’s the only way that they can consistently catch fish or put game in the freezer. This increased awareness makes it almost impossible to ignore the growing effects of climate change.
The evidence may differ from one region to the next in the country, but it is true that the evidence is varied. Some sportsmen are now facing more intense rainfall and floodingWhile others face, unprecedented droughtOr more extreme wildfiresOr coastal inundationOr dying forestsOr stronger hurricanes. However, anyone who spends much time outside can see the rapidly changing patterns.
The science is clear: If we don’t reduce our CO2 emissions, and halt the current warming trend. our fisheries will eventually crater and anglers will lose opportunities they’ve always taken for granted. Hunters will also be left watching helplessly as big game, waterfowl and upland bird populations slowly but surely decline.
We will continue to release billions and billions upon billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. This will cause a dramatic change in the natural world and will have devastating effects on our fishing and hunting.
Why should Congress care? Sportsmen will look for someone to blame if their fishing declines and hunting falls off a cliff.
Our outdoor heritage is a major part of America’s rural culture. It’s baked into our way of life. When scientists and fisheries biologists point the finger at politicians for failing to protect our forests and waters from the ravages wrought by climate change, and when it becomes apparent that many senators have chosen fossil fuel industry profits over our outdoor traditions or sporting heritage, there will surely be hell to pay at your ballot box.
The House recently voted on President Biden’s Build Back Better plan. Those votes are now cast in stone, and it’s a matter of record who supported strong climate action and who did not. Going forward, senators from both parties will have to decide whether they want to side with healthy landscapes and clean waters — and with America’s 40 million sportsmen and women — or whether they’d rather pledge their allegiance to an industry that’s largely responsible for the most severe planetary crisis we’ve ever faced.
The history of anglers and hunters is long. They support politicians and parties who share their values. They show up year after year. vote for people who have their backs. Allegiances can shift, though, and it’s not hard to predict how sportsmen and women will react if they’re thrown under the climate bus. America has two choices: climate action or climate chaos. Now Congress must understand that decisions have consequences.
Todd Tanner is a lifelong hunter and angler, an outdoor writer, the founder of the School of Trout, and the president of Conservation Hawks, a group made up of sportsmen and women who are committed to combating climate change. His views are his alone.