Guest Blog Post by Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D.,Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator
Our societal well-being is linked to a healthy, productive, and resilient environment. However, many of our nation’s treasured landscapes and iconic species are fundamentally changing due to the effects of a changing climate.
For example, many fish, wildlife and plant species are shifting northward and into higher elevations or deeper water as temperatures increase. Increasing ocean temperature and acidity in our oceans are altering local food webs and disrupting historic fisheries. Sea level rise is decreasing the extent of coastal wetlands and coral reefs. And the disappearance of ice in the northern latitudes is forever changing the habitats where whales, seals, polar bears, and walruses live and feed.
Conservation is a critical strategy for promoting resilience among our nation’s fish, wildlife and plants – including humans – as our planet continues to change.
A new White House Fact Sheet and report released yesterday, the Priority Agenda for Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources lays the path of conservation planning in the face of climate change.
Protecting our country’s natural resources also benefits communities and economies. Healthy and resilient ecosystems play an important role in “buffering” the effects of extreme weather on our communities, providing us food and clean water, and helping to mitigate the impacts of carbon pollution by serving as “sinks” that sequester and store carbon. Additionally, energy generation, agriculture, and tourism, and many more sectors of our economy rely on the availability of natural resources, underscoring the essential need for conservation as a critical resilience and adaptation strategy.
The Priority Agenda is one part of an ongoing strategy to implement the President’s Climate Action Plan, and make the nation better prepared for the impacts of climate change. The Agenda builds upon the robust climate change adaptation work already underway by federal agencies, including NOAA, and identifies significant actions moving forward.