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.
Confronting a Threat without Borders
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.
The Changing Face of Massachusetts
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:
- Advocate for innovative policies, with the goal of reducing emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050
Because climate change affects us all, state, national and international cooperation will be vital. In every legislature — including Massachusetts — policy differences will have to be reconciled, recommendations hammered out and rules approved. Get the details on the Conservancy’s climate change priorities at our government relations page.
- Reduce the destruction of tropical forests
Twenty-five percent of annual carbon dioxide emissions — more than the emissions produced each year by every car, truck, train, ship and airplane combined — are generated when forests are destroyed and lands degraded. And tropical forests play an extraordinary role in capturing and retaining carbon over time. Learn more about role of forests in reducing emissions and our work to protect them.
- Restore large-scale forests throughout the Americas
Forested landscapes in Massachusetts and the Northeast store carbon and play critical roles as migration corridors for animals displaced by climate change. Think of them as pulling and storing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere while providing green roadways where species can migrate from the Berkshire Taconics on into the larger Appalachians and beyond into Canada’s boreal forest.
- Help natural and human systems adapt to unavoidable changes
Even if the world’s carbon sources were turned off like faucets — right this second — we would still face up to a century of temperature increases and related changes. Only by building nature’s resilience, can we limit the negative impacts on people and nature. Hear Conservancy scientist Mark Anderson unravel the mystery around resiliency.