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Protecting Outdoor Recreation Requires Climate Action, Reports National Wildlife Federation’s Safeguarding Summer

Washington, DC (August 15, 2018) — Climate change is altering America’s summers in ways both disastrously large and insidiously small, according to a new National Wildlife Federation report. Safeguarding Summer details how rising temperatures are giving a boost to everything from heat waves to ticks to toxic algae outbreaks, and recommends policies for averting the worst effects of climate change.


Fueling Extreme Weather: Along with monster storms fueled by warmer air and water, heat waves and humidity are on the rise, forcing elderly and low-income Americans to choose between suffering through sweltering heat and higher electric bills.
Beaches Degraded: Not only are beaches at risk of erosion from climate-fueled sea level rise and stronger storms, they’re increasingly being closed by toxic algae outbreaks that get a boost from warmer water. In 2017, 169 algae outbreaks were reported in 40 states, according to the Environmental Working Group.
Pest Boom: Warmer temperatures and fewer freezes are a boon to disease-carrying pests. Illnesses from mosquitoes, ticks and fleas have tripled in just the last 13 years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lyme disease is already being called the "first epidemic of climate change," and the CDC estimates 329,000 Americans get it each year.
Hindered Recreation: Not only do worsened summer heat waves and pests make it harder to enjoy the outdoors, but climate impacts are changing Major League Baseball. This year, Major League Baseball broke its April record for weather-related delays and cancellations. Home runs fly out of parks more easily in hotter, more humid air, and the global warming-boosted emerald ash borer is threatening the trees used to make bats.
"From sea to shining sea, Americans are facing natural disasters that are exacerbated by climate change, from raging megafires in California to toxic algal blooms in Florida," said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. "This new report is a wake-up call for all Americans on the need to act now in order to protect our wildlife, communities, and summer activities by promoting climate-smart conservation strategies and supporting the sensible steps to adopt cleaner energy and vehicles."

"This spring I encountered numerous black-legged (deer) ticks while outdoors," said Doug Inkley, former NWF Senior Science Adviser (retired). "The doctor put me on antibiotics when a classic bull's-eye rash, characteristic of Lyme infection, appeared. This is nothing like when I was a kid running around in the woods of central Vermont. We didn't even think about ticks because there weren't any here! Now, they seem to be everywhere and I take appropriate precautions whenever I go outside."

America’s outdoor recreation economy is an $887 billion business annually, supporting 7.6 million jobs. In 2016, 103 million U.S. residents enjoyed wildlife-related recreation, with 35.8 million fishing, 11.5 million hunting, and 86 million participated in at least one wildlife-watching activity.

To curb the worst harms of climate change, the report calls for actions such as:

Reducing carbon emissions from the power sector — the second-largest source of climate pollution in the U.S.
Continuing to enforce and enhance rules to limit methane pollution from oil and gas infrastructure
Reducing carbon emissions from the transportation sector through policies that curb emissions and incentivize cleaner cars and electric vehicles
Encouraging Congress to pass legislation to put a price on carbon pollution
Enhancing natural systems and wildlife corridors to provide wildlife with valuable ecosystems that would also reduce risks from flooding and sea-level rise.

Visit the National Wildlife Federation Media Center at