Climate Change Q&A with Bob Moseley

According to Bob Moseley, the need to balance Illinois' growing human demand for natural resources with a healthy environment and economy is one of the state's most significant conservation issues. After working over the past 25 years across diverse terrain in the United States and China, he is now focused on protecting and restoring the densely populated state of Illinois. Threats such as climate change and pollution add to the complexity of the solutions; however, Bob notes that solutions do exist.

What is The Nature Conservancy is doing in Illinois to address climate change?

Bob Moseley:

All of the natural areas that the Conservancy has protected and restored in Illinois are an important part of the climate change solution. For more than 50 years, the Conservancy has focused on the restoration and protection of the state's natural landscape and fostered biodiversity in those places. We have protected and restored over 80,000 acres in Illinois and currently own and manage about 17,000 acres. All of these natural areas sequester carbon and are an important solution to reduce greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

What is the benefit of the acres in Illinois the Conservancy currently manages?

Bob Moseley:

Preliminary figures show that these 17,000 acres have prevented the release of 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The amount of carbon sequestered varies based on the age of the existing natural area. The amount of carbon stored on these lands is equivalent to:

* nearly 180 million gallons of gasoline or
* 3.6 billion miles driven by the average car or
* keeping 150,000 cars off the road for a year or
* offsetting the electricity consumption of 213,000 average American households for a year or
* the equivalent of 72 days of emissions from a typical Illinois coal-fired power plant.

How does restoration factor into the equation?

Bob Moseley:

We calculate that our restoration activity sequesters about 12 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year. In particular, the root systems of prairie plants store large amounts of carbon. This annual accumulation rate is equivalent to:

* 1.4 million gallons of gasoline or
* 27 million car miles or
* keeping over 1,100 cars off the roads each year or
* offsetting the electricity of over 1,600 households for a year.

What are your plans for the ongoing threat of climate change?

Bob Moseley:

In addition to continuing to sequester carbon in natural areas, we are developing ways to manage Illinois' landscape so that it is resilient to a warming climate. Some of these projects are further explained in our Annual Report. I also served as the lead author on the Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature [1.27MB PDF]. This plan is a first-of-its-kind document outlining strategies to preserve the urban region's natural areas for the long-term, despite new threats posed by climate change. We are also assisting the Illinois Department of Natural Resources with a climate change revision of its Illinois Wildlife Action Plan that will help the state's fish and wildlife management adapt to a new future.

Where can I find out more about what the Conservancy is doing world-wide to combat climate change?

Bob Moseley:

The Conservancy is working on a range of land and seascapes to address climate change. More information is available.


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