What does Climate Change have to do with public lands? Everything!
Climate change affects all life on Earth. Much of Broads’ work is related to reducing or eliminating activities on public lands that contribute to global warming (and exacerbate the effects of our changing climate); as well as keeping lands and waters intact that sequester carbon and help species adapt to changing conditions.
We hear so much about greenhouse gases, but what exactly does that mean? Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the greenhouse gas we humans are most responsible for emitting. Although carbon exists naturally in our atmosphere as part of Earth’s carbon cycle, (where it is exchanged between the atmosphere, oceans, plants, animals, soil, and people), human activities alter the cycle and upset the balance. This also effects the abilities of natural sinks (like forests and grasslands) to use or absorb CO2 and remove it from the atmosphere.
See our recommended reading list to learn more about climate change.
Broads’ Executive Director, Shelley Silbert, speaks with Naomi Klein about public lands, education, and how activities on public lands affect climate change.
What activities on public lands contribute to the effects of climate change?
Federally managed lands are a major source of U.S. energy production contributing to at least 23% of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
From 2008 to 2014, oil production on public lands rose by nearly 45% to nearly 150 million barrels, and 40% of U.S. coal production comes from federal public lands.
Unconventional energy extraction (tar sands, hydraulic fracturing for shale oil and shale gas, oil shale, etc.) uses vast amounts of energy and water, causes permanent habitat destruction, and negatively impacts air and water quality.
Today, there are factions pushing to commit more and more public lands to energy exploration and extraction. Broads supports keeping fossil fuels in the ground and seeking alternative, clean energy sources.
Our forests sequester more than 90% of carbon in the United States. Carbon stored above and below ground on public lands is a resource as critical as timber, water, biodiversity, recreation, fossil fuels, or other uses. The destruction of forests, which consume carbon dioxide, contributes to the increase in carbon dioxide.
Broads advocate that commercial timber harvests and development should occur on National Forests only when an analysis demonstrates that carbon benefits exceed carbon costs over a two to four decade period.
Livestock production and grazing on public lands is a significant contributor to the release of greenhouse gases. Animal production is estimated to account for 14.5% of global greenhouse gases, more than the total direct emissions from the transportation sector.
Additionally, grazing damage causes desertification and disrupts and damages soils, grasslands, wetlands, and water sources, all of which capture CO2 or store carbon. Drought and disrupted weather patterns exacerbate the injury caused by grazing.
Water We Thinking?
Water is life—and climate change leads to variability, uncertainty, and scarcity of water resources. All the activities above, including roads and routes and recreation can degrade surface and groundwater systems and ecosystem function. The agencies overseeing our public lands must prioritize protection of water resources threatened by climate change.
Located in northwest Montana, east of the vanishing glaciers of Glacier National Park, 1.5 million acres of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation are leased for oil and gas exploration. Though industry and the BLM claim there are no problems with water quality, many Blackfeet tribe members worry their ground-water, aquifers and streams have already been polluted.
A Threat to National Security
Reports from governmental, government-sponsored, and non-governmental sectors recognize climate change as a threat to national security. These reports show a high probability that climate change will destabilize society, leading to unrest, global conflict, and economic malaise. Changing and unpredictable weather patterns may lead to flooding, drought, disrupted access to energy supplies, and short supply of fresh water and food.
Broads supports a bipartisan call to action to minimize climate change impacts, reduce fossil fuel consumption, and enhance national and global security.
Committed to grassroots action on climate change?
- Host a WILD CARE event (WILD = Women In Loving Defense) through our national office.
- Make climate change a Broadband initiative.
- Start a new Broadband to tackle local climate change issues.
- Support local efforts to thwart mining, drilling, or transport of fossil fuels through wild lands and local communities
Contact email@example.com or 970-385-9577 and we’ll help you get started!
WILD CARE Project
Women in Loving Defense
Inspired by Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, Broads’ budding WILD CARE Project is designed to educate, engage, and fire up communities around the relationship of public lands issues and climate change to foster commitment for immediate and direct action.
Fossil fuel extraction, logging of high-carbon forests, abusive livestock grazing practices, and other activities conducted on public lands exacerbates the affects of a changing climate. Protecting our public lands from these activities also helps combat the catastrophic effects of climate change.
- Educate and Empower Create awareness as to how regional public lands issues are directly connected to climate disturbance.
- Identify & Frame Regional Issues Work with Broadbands to research issues, develop an understanding of those issues, and create talking points to support advocacy efforts.
- Foster Partners and Collaboration Work with regional and national partners to build collective knowledge and power around issues to preserve and protect public lands as a part of the solution to climate disturbance.
- Action and Advocacy Acknowledge and reinforce the urgency for action and identify action steps that can be taken to effect change.
Ready? Set? Get Involved!
We’ve presented pilot programs in a few regions and we’re in the final stages of developing a public program that will be rolled out across the United States. If you’d like to get involved, find out more, or talk to us about presenting a program in your area, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 970-385-9577.
Broads’ Position Statement
Climate change affects all life on Earth and puts at risk many of the values for which wilderness areas are designated. At the same time, the unbroken habitat and wildlife corridors provided by wilderness give plant and animal species a fighting chance to adapt to changing conditions. Wild lands also sequester carbon in high biomass forests, grasslands, oceans, and other ecosystems. Benefits provided by wilderness such as water supply, flood mitigation, and biodiversity conservation will become increasingly essential in the future.
- Broads supports keeping fossil fuels in the ground. It is our only chance to keep global temperatures and the Earth’s vital signs from reaching a tipping point. Fossil fuel corporations must not be allowed to shift costs of climate disruption to society while reaping profits from public lands.
- Commercial timber harvests and development should take place on public forests only when an analysis demonstrates that carbon benefits exceed carbon costs over a two to four decade period. National Forest planning rules should require conservation of forested areas with a higher than average carbon biomass.
- Public land management plans must consider and minimize the climate impacts of livestock grazing, roads and vehicular routes, recreation, and other activities. Wild public lands should be prioritized for maximizing carbon storage, biodiversity, and ecological function.
- Natural water cycles on public lands must be rigorously protected to maintain quality, quantity, and ecosystem function. The federal government must protect and maintain water resources in trust for all citizens and for the benefit of ecosystem health and stability.
- Broads supports a bipartisan call to action to minimize climate change impacts, reduce fossil fuel consumption, and enhance national and global security.
Here is a PDF of our climate change position statement.
Broadtastic Books: Climate Change
All We Can Save: Truth, Courage and Solutions for the Climate Crisis
Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson, 2020
Great Tide Rising
Kathleen Dean Moore
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming
No One is Too Small to Make a Difference
As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, From Colonization to Standing Rock
The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture
James Lawrence Powell, 2011
Merchants of Doubt
Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway, 2011
Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril
Kathleen Dean Moore & Michael P. Nelson, 2011