The preeminent threat the chaparral faces, we all face,
is human-caused climate disturbance
induced by the unnatural release of carbon
from the burning of fossil fuels - stored carbon
that has been locked away for millions of years.
Like adding too much sugar to a cup of coffee will make it undrinkable, adding excessive amounts of carbon to the atmosphere will radically alter the world's climate.
Take personal action to help reverse this civilization killing behavior.
1. Take direct action by participating in Climate Crisis protests. Find out where they are here: FridaysForFuture.
2. Join/Help organizations that are helping to mobilize the world for change such as:
3. Make personal changes to reduce the amount of carbon you add to the atmosphere. For example:
- Reduce or eliminate beef from your diet.
- Alter your transportation habits to reduce consumption of fossil fuels.
- Help others understand the impact of the Climate Crisis (connect emotionally).
- Vote for leaders who acknowledge the Climate Crisis and support change.
- Support companies who are reducing their carbon emissions (vote with your wallet).
- Replace screen time with socializing, creating, learning, art, hiking, gardening, loving.
- Install solar panels if you own a home and can afford it.
The Impact of Climate Change on
Mediterranean-type climate ecosystems
1. Loss of chaparral. As the climate changes due to the burning of fossil fuels, the environment in which chaparral thrives will be radically altered. Look at the map above. The red areas represent where chaparral exists today, but will likely be replaced by weeds within the next century if we continue to alter the climate. Therefore, the clearance and burning of habitat under the guise of fire protection is not only irresponsible, but it also contributes to the Climate Crisis (destroying carbon sequestering habitat).
2. Native habitats at risk. "At current rates of emissions, about 45-56 percent of all the natural vegetation in the state is at risk, or from 61,190 to 75,866 square miles," said lead author James Thorne, a research scientist with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis. "If we reduce the rate to Paris accord targets, those numbers are lowered to between 21 and 28 percent of the lands at climatic risk."
3. Southern California is moving north. "One consequence of climate disturbance in California will be a shift of biodiversity to the north (Loarie et al. 2008). Scientists from the US Geological Survey developed the Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) to assess the physical vulnerability of the California coast. They found that from San Luis Obispo to the Mexico border, communities along this coastline have “high” or “very high” vulnerability to climate change (McGinnis et al. 2009; National Park Service 2004; Stein et al. 2000)."
Under a future high emissions/hot and dry climate scenario for the time period 2070 - 2099, much of the area currently occupied by chaparral will no longer be suitable for that plant community (shown in red). The likely replacement will be highly flammable, non-native weeds. From Thorne et al. 2016. Click image to download the full paper.
Contributing to Climate Change Under the Guise of Fire Protection
The growing consensus of scientific findings is that, to effectively mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, we must not only move beyond fossil fuel consumption but must also substantially increase protection of our native shrublands and forests in order to absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere and store more, not less, carbon in our forests.
Contrary to the claims of Cal Fire, the US Forest Service, commerical logging interests, and some misguided environmental organizations, there is no scientific evidence to support increased logging to store more carbon in wood products, such as dimensional lumber or cross-laminated timber (CLT) for tall buildings, as a natural climate solution.
Furthermore, the scientific evidence does not support the burning of wood (biomass) in place of fossil fuels as a climate solution.
Therefore, we urge Cal Fire and land management agencies to stop grinding up chaparral and clearing habitat under the guise of fire protection. Instead, use the best available science to focus on what matters most for communities - reducing fire risk within communities themselves.
We also urge Congress and state legislatures to oppose legislative proposals that would promote logging and wood consumption, ostensibly as a natural climate change solution, based on claims that these represent an effective carbon storage approach, or claims that biomass logging, and incinerating trees and shrubs for energy, represents renewable, carbon-neutral energy. These proposals are based on selfish, financial interests, not on securing a healthier environment for all of us.
Download the full letter to Congress on this subject, with hundreds of scientist signatories, here.