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Letter: Where the real madness lies in climate change

As March Madness is in full swing and life is sweet for 16 teams, some plants and animals that are mascots for prominent college teams are on a losing streak, reports the National Wildlife Federation. Climate change is the most serious environmental threat today to many animals and plants and urgent action is needed at all levels, according to “Mascot Madness: How Climate Change is Hurting School Spirit.” Climate change is a formidable opponent for many wildlife that symbolize college sports teams, from terrapins to tigers. The real madness is not on the basketball court but what is happening to our natural world.

From wolverines to gators, species that have spent countless centuries adapting a home court advantage are now watching the rules of the game changed before their eyes by carbon pollution.

Wolverines (Michigan) rely on deep snowpack for building dens to raise their young and may be declared a threatened species as the climate continues to warm.

Gators (Florida) face reproductive threats. When alligators overheat, more eggs hatch as males. Imbalances in sex ratios like these can be a threat to sustaining healthy populations.

In the West, intense droughts are leaving bears (Baylor) hungry, which puts both humans and bears at risk as bears venture into communities looking for food.

Study after study confirms that temperatures are climbing worldwide because of man-made carbon pollution. The year 2013 tied for the fourth-warmest on record globally. Every single one of the warmest years on record has occurred since 1998.

Everyone wants a champion. Let’s champion solving climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency has a plan to cut carbon pollution and I hope our members of Congress rally behind it.

Gary Botzek

Executive Director

Minnesota Conservation Federation

St. Paul