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    Dr. Jane Lubchenco

    (Professor at Oregon State University, Past President of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Ecological Society of America)

    Jane Lubchenco is currently the Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and Distinguished Professor of Zoology at Oregon State University, and has been awarded a litany of honors. She has been selected as a Pew Scholar in Conservation and the Environment, a MacArthur Fellow, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a member of the National Science Board. She is also an American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow, an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow, and has received numerous teaching awards. She has accomplished all of this since receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1975.

    Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, as both of you are aware, the ecological systems of the world –– the forests, wetlands, coral reefs –– provide the life support systems for all of life on earth. Important ecosystem functions, including flood control, purification of air and water, and the creation of beautiful places for recreation and inspiration can only be provided by intact ecological systems, and when those systems are disrupted or lost, then we lose the goods and services they provide. To provide a few vignettes of the ecological consequences of climate change, in the optimistic scenario of a doubled CO2 world, let me invite you on a brief field trip to different parts of our country:
  • Let's begin in the forests of New England, which like probably a third of the forests around the globe, will undergo major changes. For example, we would probably lose sugar maples from the New England forests.
  • Let's move to the southern part of our country. Salt marshes in Louisiana are already being submerged. Climatic change would exacerbate this problem as sea level rises between six inches and three feet. The loss of salt marshes would result in the loss of nursery areas, which are the natural hatcheries for important fish and shellfish. We would also lose the system's ability to detoxify pollutants, trap sediments, create a habitat for unique plants and animals, and protect the shores against the battering of waves.
  • Now let's move to the Midwest. Drought is no stranger to this region. The heat wave in 1988 resulted in a one–third drop in U.S. agricultural production. While these highly managed agricultural systems are thought to be quite adaptable, climate change is likely to increase demands on available water to ameliorate soil drying, and on pesticide use to combat increased incidences of pests and diseases.
  • Flying up to Glacier National Park in Montana, we would be dismayed to find out that fully 73 percent of the glacial areas have already been lost since 1850 because of climate warming. In fact, climate change is predicted to result in loss of all of t he glaciers in the park by the year 2030, well within many of our children's lifetimes.
  • As an ecologist, I must emphasize that the slower the rate of change in climate, the less catastrophic the results. Species are more likely to be able to migrate, to grow, and evolve if the rate of change is slow.