Endangered Species: Greater Sage Grouse
Endangered Species: Kirtland's Warbler
A Sense of Urgency
Before taking on her new position as Audubon’s global warming coordinator, Julia Levin (above) served as Audubon California’s policy director. In that capacity she worked with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other state leaders on enacting environmental bills that included higher renewable energy standards, wind power guidelines, wetlands preservation, and the restoration of the Salton Sea ecosystem. Previously Levin worked on climate and energy policies at the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Heritage Institute, a U.S.-based agency involved in international development, as well as at other environmental groups. Audubon recently caught up with her.—Keith Kloor
Audubon: How is the organization tackling global warming in 2008?
Levin: Our highest priority now is to pass comprehensive global warming legislation [in Congress], known as cap and trade, which would reduce U.S. emissions by 80 percent over the next four decades.
Q: How does Audubon distinguish itself from other groups?
A: Our unique strength is our network of chapters and grassroots leaders. When our national policy staff, state offices, and grassroots network work together, we can make an enormous difference: passing important policies, inspiring individual and community action, and better protecting birds and their habitat.
Q: What can one person do to help reduce greenhouse gases?
A: There are a lot of easy things that we can change in our everyday lives. We should all change our lightbulbs to compact fluorescents, make sure our houses are insulated, reduce our water consumption, and try to drive less.
Q: Are Americans willing to make sacrifices?
A: The British Treasury Secretary says the costs of ignoring global warming will be 20 times more than the costs of addressing it. So I think there will be far more benefits to global warming action than sacrifices, and the sooner we act, the greater the benefits. States and counties that are already taking action are generating new jobs in renewable energy and higher income from farmers producing biofuels. The business community is already investing heavily in clean technologies and may see this as the next high-tech boom.
Q: Last year Al Gore won an Oscar for his movie An Inconvenient Truth and received a Nobel Peace Prize for all he’s done to raise awareness of global warming. After years of muddling along, have we, as a society, finally turned a corner on this issue?
A: There is no question that Vice-President Gore’s work has tipped public opinion about the science and seriousness of global warming. Now we need to convince the public about the urgency of taking action and doing so immediately.
Q: What’s the best way to achieve all of this?
A: The most important thing any of us can do in 2008 is to help elect global warming leaders to the White House, Congress, and state and local government. Audubon and the League of Conservation Voters provide information on national votes.
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