Some small streams that have historically held trout are today becoming too warm in the summer months to sustain such populations.
Convergence is a short film, recently released by Conservation Hawks with the support of numerous partners, that showcases the effects of climate change on fisheries.
Numerous anglers, professional guides and business leaders appear in the film giving testimony as to how water impacts their life and what concerns they have for our future.
Conservation Hawks is a nonprofit organization made up of hunters and anglers who rally behind their motto: “Hunters and anglers defending our future.”
According to their website, Conservation Hawks focus their time and money on climate change “because serious, human-caused climate impacts like higher temperatures, stronger storms, more extreme droughts, changing precipitation patterns, unprecedented insect infestations, dying forests, reduced mountain snowpacks, an increase in invasive species, more ticks and mosquitoes, dying coral reefs, shifting waterfowl and big game migration patterns, an increase in extreme precipitation and flooding, toxic algae blooms, and ocean acidification are bad for hunters and anglers all over America.”
Anyone who made it through elementary school science class understands Earth has experienced substantial shifts in climate throughout her history. The Pleistocene Epoch, or Ice Age, isn’t something people debate. Our landscape shows evidence of massive, shifting glaciers.
Yet, right now, our rapidly warming planet is somehow a public controversy even though science proves the planet is becoming warmer every year.
I feel like if you deny climate change today, it’s the equivalent of arguing the earth wasn’t beginning to cool about 1.8 million years ago. If you must, forget for a minute how nearly every scientist alive concludes climate change is real and is an incredible threat to mankind, and let’s just address good old-fashioned common sense.
The Ice Age ended about 11,700 years ago. For the Ice Age to end, the world had to be heating up, right? So we agree the world was heating up before modern humans began to explode in population and started to burn fossil fuels. If the Ice Age lasted close to two million years and we are only about 12,000 years from the end of that period, we should expect the warming period we are in to last quite a long time.
There, we settled the argument over if the world is warming. Wasn’t that easy?
So the real controversy lies in the question of whether or not man is having an impact on climate change. The answer to that is, how could we not be? Today there are 7.5 billion people on our planet. Only 12,000 years ago, when the ice caps retreated and people began to spread across the planet, there were only an estimated two million humans.
Our population has exploded and so have our needs. Feeding 7.5 billion people is an incredible demand on our planet. Out of necessity, farmed animal populations have also exploded. Those animals play a significant role in greenhouse gas emissions. The machinery required to farm mass produced fruits and vegetables also contribute. So do vehicles and most methods of energy production.
Look, I’m not about to sell my truck and start walking everywhere I go. I’ll never give up eating meat, and I really, really like my air conditioner during July in the Midwest. These comforts of modern life are awesome, and there’s no denying how lucky we are to have technology that allows us to hop on a plane and land thousands of miles away in mere hours. No one is going to take these modern conveniences away from you.
But we must strive for greater efficiency with less impact. I’m certainly appreciative of agriculture and industry for what they provide my life. But facts are facts, and there are costs for these comforts. Costs future generations are going to have deal with.
Each morning, I wake up and see a little more grey in my beard. As I approach 40, the reality of my mortality is evident in the mirror. I have reached the point in life where one begins to put serious thought into what the world will be like when I’m gone, and like most people, I want the world to be better 100 years from now than it is today. I want future generations to experience and come to appreciate the wild places I love, so those places continue to thrive forever.
For this to happen, it is on us to protect our planet today.
In Convergence, Perk Perkins of Orvis says, “When you’re on a smaller creek and you’re out and think, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen anyone in like the last hour and a half. That’s pretty cool.’ ”
Out west, we are seeing the effects of climate change in our rivers. Water temperatures are climbing too high to sustain trout. Algae blooms are happening. Droughts are happening. Rivers are being closed to angling because fish are too stressed by their own elements to survive the pressure of fishing. We are watching our resources disappear.
You may be wondering, like most of us, what you can do. How does one person make a difference? Travis Swartz has a good answer in Convergence.
“For me personally, what I’ve decided is, I’m going to decide to listen to people that dedicate their lives to understanding science. But I think that the most important thing, if you know nothing about it, that you can do is simply be willing to learn and have a conversation, and not be angry. And not be weird and unwilling to even listen,” Swartz said.
Collectively, we have to make changes as a planet to address climate change. America must lead, and sportsmen, who witness nature firsthand regularly, can be at the forefront of that change.
Perkins said, “One thing fishing has taught me is to be more observant.”
I don’t know what the answers are, but like Perk and Travis, I want to be observant, to listen and learn and not be angry. Most importantly, I want to do what I can today so my great-great-great-grandchildren will experience my favorite rivers with similar fish long after I’m gone.