Study Cites Climate Threats to Mountaintops. Drinking Water
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – As Congress moves to take the brakes off clean-water and climate-pollution protections, a new study published in the journal Nature shows water from the Rocky Mountains - and mountains around the globe - are threatened by climate change.
Nathan Sanders, an ecologist at the University of Vermont and the report's co-author, says nearly half the world's drinking water is filtered through mountain forests, plants and soils. He says biodiversity increasingly is at risk as the planet gets warmer.
"Over the entire Rocky Mountain region, many people live at the bases of mountains," he said. "And much of the water generated in those mountains, you know, flows throughout the western U.S."
Sanders' team gathered data in the Rocky Mountains, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Europe, Japan and Patagonia. He says the results showed changes in temperature impacts biodiversity primarily through changes in soil nutrient levels, and warns the effects on mountains' ability to provide people with clean water could be profound.
Scientists used mountain elevation as a stand-in for temperature change over decades - the lifetime for many trees - a timeline that isn't easy to recreate in a greenhouse. Sanders says the results show a warming planet is likely to have large, long-term and probably irreversible effects on natural ecosystems.
"We rely on the plants and animals and microbes and soils that live in those mountains," he explained. "And so we have to do everything in our power to protect that biodiversity to ensure that mountain ecosystems provide the services that so much of humanity relies on."
In addition to reversing rules to protect water downstream of coal production, last week the U.S. House of Representatives also took steps to overturn the BLM's recent rule limiting methane waste on public lands. Methane, the key component of natural gas, is more than 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
get more stories like this via email
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Climate activists are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing a $15 billion climate action package Thursday, but argued he …
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Some New Yorkers are voicing concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional, State Senate and …
LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan advocates for children and families are praising many of the investments in the 2022 state budget passed this week…
DES MOINES, Iowa -- There is strong public support in Iowa to enact a state law that criminalizes elder abuse, a topic also being discussed by law …
SALT LAKE CITY -- A researcher at the University of Utah said plans for generating renewable energy should include a power source right under our feet…
CHICAGO -- Advocates for immigrants and refugees in Illinois traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to push for a pathway to citizenship for up to …
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, and a new grant will help farmers explore ways to transition the industry to …
BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota lawmakers in charge of redistricting have approved a preliminary draft of new legislative boundaries, but voters' …