Warming alarms outdoorsmen

Survey: Warming alarms outdoorsmen Sunday, July 23, 2006 New Orleans Times-Picayune (www.nola.com) Bob Marshall The opening scenes of Al Gore's documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," still were moving across the screen when it became obvious that some in the theater were there to ridicule, not to listen. "Propaganda" and "quack" were some of the comments, but the one that stuck in my mind came from one woman to another, who whispered, "My husband says no one at his hunting camp believes any of this." If she's right, they're a distinct minority among hunters and anglers. A survey conducted for the National Wildlife Federation shows an overwhelming majority of hunters and anglers agree with the consensus in the scientific community that global warming is real, that it already is eroding their quality of life and that it poses a definite threat to the future of two things they love -- fish and wildlife. That stands in sharp contrast to the media stereotype that sportsmen, who tend to be conservative, are marching in lockstep with the knuckle-dragging approach to this issue taken by the Bush administration and others in Congress. Hunters and anglers agree with the world's most respected authorities on climate science, that the only thing to debate about global warming is not whether it exists but what we should do about it. By now a number of you already are mumbling the bromides prescribed by global warming naysayers: Just more hysterics by the lefty-dominated green groups who keep insisting the sky is falling. No self-respecting sportsman -- no thinking sportsman -- would fall for these overblown claims. The guys answering this survey must live somewhere on the Left Coast, do their fishing in a park pond and hunt with a Nikon instead of a Remington. Wrong. Way wrong. One of the most newsworthy things about this poll is that the hunters and anglers who responded are a demographic mirror of the Bush administration's most loyal supporters. Seventy-three percent said they were conservative to moderate on political issues; 53 percent voted for Bush in the last election (29 percent voted for Kerry). Fifty percent considered themselves Evangelical Christians. Nor were they the victims of a cleverly manipulated poll by a subsidiary of Greenpeace. The scientifically valid survey was conducted by the respected research firm Responsive Management, which has specialized in polling sportsmen for a client list that includes many fish and game agencies and the National Shooting Sports Foundation. According to Responsive Management, everything was done to make sure the respondents were a snapshot of the national demographic profile of hunters and anglers, including pulling names for the lists of licensed sportsmen and proportioning the sample among states to reflect national demographics. So the size of the majority in these opinions tells you the issue is no longer in doubt for sportsmen: -- 76 percent: Global warming is occurring. -- 73 percent: Have seen global warming affect their hunting and fishing. -- 71 percent: Believe global warming is a serious threat to fish and wildlife. -- 67 percent: Global warming is an urgent problem that needs immediate action. -- 82 percent: Addressing global warming should be a high national priority. -- 78 percent: The United States should reduce its emission of greenhouse gasses. Those results only reaffirm a conclusion I reached long ago: The modern outdoors person is among the most well-educated of our citizens on environmental issues. That's especially good news because coastal Louisiana could be erased from the maps by the end of the century if nothing is done soon to address the root cause of climate warming -- the emission of greenhouse gases. Even the most moderate estimates of sea level rise associated with warming temperatures would dramatically magnify the problems we already face with delta subsidence. That isn't a theory or a guess, it's a fact accepted by the world's leading scientists. And now, thanks to this poll, we know most sportsmen agree. Of course, telling a pollster how you feel takes only a few minutes of your time. Putting some energy behind your opinions is what turns the results from an interesting news item into a force for positive change. Most politicians -- especially those taking big contributions from polluting industries -- know environmental concerns have seldom been an issue on election day. Wouldn't it be nice if hunters and anglers across America mailed a copy of the poll to their reps with a note that read something like this: I'll be matching your votes in Congress against this survey. Now, that would be a wake-up call. You can find complete results of the poll at http://fieldandstream.blogs.com/news/2006/05/a_sur....