It’s the middle of the day, but the Massachusetts Chapter’s Boston office is unusually dark. If you were to walk around the u-shaped corridor, you’d see the faces of staff lit by the glow of computer monitors and desk lamps.
These days, we keep the fluorescent overheads off, opting for task lighting to conserve energy. By drawing the shades, we limit the need for air conditioning. Our printers are stocked with reused and recycled paper. Nearly everyone bikes or takes public transportation to work.
The world’s foremost scientists estimate that emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide must be reduced by as much as 80 percent before 2050 to avoid the most serious consequences of climate change. With sources of emissions continuing to billow tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, it will take all of us pulling together to get that number down.
Of course, it will take more than avid recycling and adjusted thermostats to turn the tables on climate change. We must tackle this threat across our cities, regions, seas and continents. We must protect forests, prepare our coastal lands and waters for rising seas and make sustainable choices in our homes and offices.
We take these challenges very seriously in Massachusetts — perhaps because our own lands and waters are already showing symptoms of change.
Can you imagine the Berkshire forests without their fiery foliage? The Westfield River so warm and sluggish that brook trout no longer surge below its surface? The sunstruck grasslands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket slowly vanishing under rising seas and battered by energetic storms?
Some plants and animals may be able to move in response to changing temperatures and shifting food sources, but others will have no place to go. Many species that would normally move northward or to higher elevations, today find themselves flush against highways, shopping malls and other developments — refugees of a changing world.
While migratory birds like the blackpoll warbler will lose important resting stops along their transcontinental journeys, people in Massachusetts will lose local products like maple syrup, cranberries, lobster and cod that support vibrant traditions and local livelihoods.
The Nature Conservancy knows how best to apply our special strengths in combating climate change and where we can make a meaningful difference: