Wednesday, June 24, 2015

EPA: Climate Change Destroying Trout, Salmon Fisheries

Fly fishing on the Ausable in Wilmington (John Warren photo)The Adirondack Park’s trout and salmon fishing would likely disappear by 2100 without global action to counteract climate warming according to a new report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA’s study concludes global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would save 70 percent of Adirondack trout and salmon from extinction.  The EPA report also predicts widespread damage to other cold-water fisheries, public health, clean water, electricity grids, roads and bridges, forestry, agriculture and coastal communities.

The EPA’s report is titled Climate Change in the U.S.: Benefits of Global Action is a summary of the Climate Change Impacts and Risks Analysis (CIRA) project, a peer-reviewed study.  It compares impacts in a future with significant global action on climate change to a future in which current greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

“This report is shocking.  Its map of trout and salmon habitat in the year 2100 shows a big blank space over the entire Adirondack Park,” William C. Janeway, Executive Director of Adirondack Council said in a statement sent to the press. “Without immediate action to curb the warming climate, EPA is predicting that all Adirondack trout and salmon populations will be dead within 85 years.  A change like that would fundamentally alter the nature of this park, its water, wildlife and the economy of the communities.  The Adirondack Park would never be the same again.”

“That means all of New York’s trout and salmon will die.  This is just one of the drastic and terrible changes our children and grandchildren would inherit from us if we do nothing,” Janeway said.  “That would be a shameful legacy. We ought to be doing everything we can to avoid such a fate.  We should start today.”

EPA Climate Change MapJaneway noted that many Adirondack trout and salmon populations are genetically unique and valuable to the entire web of life in the park.  They are food for loons and other iconic wildlife, while also serving as a top predator in the waters they inhabit.  Their loss would unravel the park’s web of life.

“In terms of people, the loss of our trout and salmon would strike a horrendous blow to the Adirondack Park’s tourism economy,” he said.  “The bass and sunfish that would replace trout and salmon are fun to catch, but they live almost everywhere.  People will not drive hundreds of miles through the mountains to angle for the same fish that swim back home.”  Estimates of losses to communities that host trout or salmon waters run as high as $1.5 billion per year nationwide.

Acid rain has already taken a toll on the park’s fish, but recent, hard-won pollution reductions have had a positive impact Janeway said, adding that unbridled climate change would wipe out recent progress.

EPA’s report states:

Freshwater Fish: All trout and salmon habitat from Tennessee to New England would be too warm to support native fish by 2100 without global action to curb greenhouse gases (GHG).  With action to curb greenhouse gas could preserve trout in the Adirondacks approximately 70 percent of habitat for cold-water fish species that would otherwise be lost by the end of the century.

Key Findings

  1. Warming waters and changes in stream flow from climate change will alter the distribution of freshwater fisheries across the country. Without global GHG mitigation, cold-water species are projected to be replaced in many areas by less economically valuable fisheries over the course of the 21st century, especially in the Mountain West and Appalachia (including Catskill Park, Adirondack Park).
  2. Habitat suitable for cold-water fisheries is estimated to decline nationally by approximately 62 percent through 2100 under the Reference, but by only 12 percent under the Mitigation scenario. Global GHG mitigation is projected to preserve cold-water habitat in most of Appalachia and the Mountain West.
  3. GHG mitigation avoids an estimated $380 million to $1.5 billion in total recreational fishing damages through 2100 compared to the Reference (discounted at 3 percent).

The report’s map shows that, without global action, there would be no trout habitat left in New York, or anywhere in the Northeast, except for a patch at the junction of the borders of New Hampshire, Maine and Quebec.  See the map online at:

Mike Lynch recently reported on the threats climate change poses to Adirondack trout.  This month, Adirondack Explorer magazine will launch a series about climate change in the Adirondack region. “Climate Matters” will run over five issues of the Explorer and be posted here on Adirondack Almanack.

All the Adirondack Almanack’s coverage of climate change can be found here.

The EPA’s rClimate Change in the U.S.: Benefits of Global Action report can be found online here.

Photo of man fly fishing on the Ausable River in Wilmington by John Warren.


Editorial Staff

Stories written under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline are drawn from press releases and other notices.

To have your news noticed here at the Almanack contact our Editor John Warren at adkalmanack@gmail.com.




18 Responses

  1. Charlie S says:

    “That means all of New York’s trout and salmon will die. This is just one of the drastic and terrible changes our children and grandchildren would inherit from us if we do nothing,” Janeway said. “That would be a shameful legacy. We ought to be doing everything we can to avoid such a fate. We should start today.”

    If i have said it once I have said it 288 times…..Until we take the money out of our elections nothing is going to change things are only going to exacerbate. To some the flow of money is more important than all things sacred on earth. Unfortunately those ‘some’ are the ones who have our puppet leaders on strings. Those same leaders are the only ones who can really do something about this.

    Is there hope? Take a look at the Citizens United ruling in 2010 by the conservatives of the Supreme Court for the answer to that question.This ruling,simply put,means corporations are allowed to spend as much money as they want to sway voters to elect this or that candidate come election time every two and four years.

    I see no hope for Adirondack salmon and trout,nor for all life on this planet,unless some drastic changes are made last year.

    • Dan Ling says:

      I agree Charlie. Getting the money totally out of politics is the issue of our time. Only then will there be any future chance for our great democracy or for the planet. For the first time in 40 years of voting, I am planning to enroll in a party, so I can vote in the primary election for Bernie Sanders. He is the real deal.

  2. Pete Klein says:

    If you really want to protect the environment from global warming and everything else (water and food shortages, etc.) cut the human population to half of what it now is.

  3. Charlie S says:

    Maybe that is why america decided to start breaking up the Middle East Pete. Maybe all of that blood and mayhem over there is part of the bigger scheme to rid the world of a sizable chunk of the population.

    • Outlier says:

      America didn’t decide to break up the middle east. America’s best “ally” in the region made the decision and America (or rather, it’s administrators) dutifully complied.

  4. David says:

    Pete,
    You’re correct. over population is the root cause of not only environmental, but political, social and economic problems.

    • Paul says:

      Why political and social? The world has never been as peaceful as it is currently even with the large population. Back when the population was much smaller it was total chaos. Not because the number of people but the lack of any real political organization. We still see remnants of this in areas where the political systems have collapsed or didn’t really exist to much extent into the modern age. Just because cable news tells us the world is falling apart don’t make it true.

      • Outlier says:

        You cannot have large scale warfare without an organized state. And, as Randolph Bourne pointed out, “War is the health of the state.”

  5. JohnL says:

    Anthropogenic global warming, aka ‘climate change’, is a colossal hoax. If the vaunted peer reviewed computer models couldn’t even get these last 20 years right, why would you think it will be correct in predicting forward almost a century. For those of you who disagree with me, I’ll be my own devil’s advocate and say that IF it were true (GW/CC), are you willing to let a GLOBAL panel of unelected (by us) people have control of our energy policies, our economy, our very welfare, and trust them to do the right thing by us? That would be madness of the highest degree. I see on this website all the time, that most of us don’t even trust the people WE’VE elected, let alone a group of faceless, nameless, unaccountable people from the UN. Can you name anything the UN has done that doesn’t smack of cronyism and corruption? 90% of every dollar of monetary ‘aid’ to 3rd world countries gets lost to the politicians of the region. Sorry. I’ve been an outdoorsman all my life too, but I’d rather lose my fish than lose my freedom. Thanks for listening. Going on vacation now, gonna catch some fish on the St Lawrence River, quite possible the worlds’ most beautiful river.

    • Outlier says:

      The climate models results I see usually start at 2005. The actual climate trend since 2005 has barely remained within 90% of the mean of the climate model trends, with the model trends over-predicting the actual temperature record.

      The climate record before 2005 is used to “tune” the models since our understanding of climate is incomplete. There is nothing wrong with this and computer models of other physical systems do the the same.

      My problem is that once it is apparent that a model results deviate significantly from reality, what do you do? You can toss poorly performing models out but how do you know that the remaining models are “right” or just benefiting from survival bias?

      If you modify the models or introduce new models what do you do with the climate record after 2005? The modelers can’t “unsee” this record. Yet they won’t introduce new or modified models that can’t replicate this record. The ethical action would be to start a new baseline year that was not included in the tuning and wait several years (ideally with a few periods of increasing and decreasing temperature cycles). I know that climate models have been modified since 2005. But it is not clear to me how they are used in the current model trend results.

      The fundamental problem is that there is only one climate record and as one reaches further into the past to get more benchmarking data to tune the model, the greater the uncertainties in the data become. We cannot conduct controlled experiments to test the models under a variety of conditions.

  6. Charlie S says:

    Outlier says: “America didn’t decide to break up the middle east. America’s best “ally” in the region made the decision and America (or rather, it’s administrators) dutifully complied.”

    I wont go there outlier but I will say it’s high time you come out of your cave.

    Paul says: “The world has never been as peaceful as it is currently even with the large population.”

    Paul Paul. You must be residing in the same cave as outlier. Or am I missing something?

  7. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: “Just because cable news tells us the world is falling apart don’t make it true. ”

    I don’t watch cable Paul. I don’t even own a television.Is why I’m so smart! But to deny the world is crumbling around us….this is over-optimism. I need that once in a while.Thanks!

  8. Charlie S says:

    Outlier says: “You cannot have large scale warfare without an organized state. And, as Randolph Bourne pointed out, “War is the health of the state.”

    An organized state! What is that? Where is that?

    Who’s health Outlier? All of those little boys and girls and their mommies and daddies that get tortured,maimed and killed by bombs? Oftentimes our bombs!
    War is expensive.It cannot continue. The environmental damage alone from wars is reason enough to put an end to them. Will we? I have my doubts. There’s just too much money being made killing people with different skin colors in foreign lands.

  9. Charlie S says:

    John says: “Anthropogenic global warming, aka ‘climate change’, is a colossal hoax.”

    > Temperatures ‘have’ been rising John but who knows! There’s a school who believe an ice age is on the way. Time will tell,but in the meantime us humans cannot be helping matters I am convinced of this.We are way too ahead of ourselves and the damage we do is horrible. Must I explain or are you aware?

    “If the vaunted peer reviewed computer models couldn’t even get these last 20 years right, why would you think it will be correct in predicting forward almost a century.”

    > We’ve seen record high temperatures the past 20 years John.Each year we’re breaking new records. Maybe it’s just a cycle but what if not a cycle? Should we at least be a little cautious,slow down a little,once in a while shut our engines off while we’re shopping at Walmart ? Maybe turn our air-conditioners off when it gets down to 50 degrees at night?

    “are you willing to let a GLOBAL panel of unelected (by us) people have control of our energy policies, our economy, our very welfare, and trust them to do the right thing by us?”

    > No sir!

    “That would be madness of the highest degree.”

    > Yes sir!

    “I’ve been an outdoorsman all my life too, but I’d rather lose my fish than lose my freedom.”

    > The way things are going John you just might lose both.

  10. Charlie S says:

    Outlier says: “The fundamental problem is that there is only one climate record and as one reaches further into the past to get more benchmarking data to tune the model, the greater the uncertainties in the data become.”

    I’m not so sure about what you say Outlier.We should start with the beginning of the industrial revolution and see how much things have changed since then….since we started spewing toxins into the air. There’s going to be cycles but nobody can convince me that we’re not altering our atmosphere,the air we breathe. We already know what we’re doing to the water but evidently water is not important enough yet! There was one winter in the 1800’s (?) when people were able to ice skate from New Jersey to Boston along the Atlantic coast. We haven’t seen that since. That alone will reveal that the earth is not as cold as it used to be within the past few hundred years.

    I have a ton of weather data from old records,diaries,letters going back to the 1600’s. Am I in the mood for doing research and coming up with my own prognosis on this matter? No i’m not as I have too many other things on my plate. I do know this! We’ve been having some extremely high temperatures and droughts and all kinds of weather anomalies for a number of years now,not just here but all over the world. Something is taking shape and it has been having devastating effects. Do we sit on our duffs and keep being seduced by our playthings or do we become responsible and start thinking about future generations for a change?

  11. chris says:

    Have there been any measured improvements so far from the acid rain legislation that shows we can actually improve the situation?

    It’d be great to get a track record going of making progress!

    • Jesse B says:

      Chris, the EPA has a robust summary of the Acid Rain Program (http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/acidrain/index.html), including publicly available data showing the progress made in reducing both sulfates and nitrates from power plants. Since the 1990 law was put into place, substantial environmental and public health benefits have been observed, and surveys of pH concentrations from lakes/ponds in the Adks and New England have shown improvement. Because soil chemistry is slow to act, these things take time, but so far this has been one of the most successful legislative programs in the EPA’s history.

      Unfortunately NOx and SO2 are not the only pollutants that lead to acidification. Increased CO2 from fossil fuel burning dissolves in water and through reactions releases H+ ions to decrease pH in water. It’s often called the ‘evil twin’ of climate change (the non-warming twin) because more acidic water means less calcium carbonate available for all those shelled animals so critical for the food chain (mussels, snails, daphnia, diatoms, zooplankton, etc.). This is a major concern for big ocean ecosystems, but also a problem for smaller systems like the Adirondack waterways, where fish like trout get a double whammy over both warmer less ideal water temperatures and more acidic conditions.