New Brunswick, N.J. (Jan. 15, 2020) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Pamela McElwee is available for interviews on climate change impacts on land, including increasing wildfires such as in Australia and California, and solutions. She is scheduled to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology today at a hearing on “An Update on the Climate Crisis: From Science to Solutions” in Washington, D.C.

“Improving the way we use and manage land can’t fix all our problems, but it can contribute significantly to addressing the climate change problem and adapting our economies to new realities,” according to written testimony by McElwee, an associate professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. “We cannot achieve our global objectives without dealing with land-based emissions, but taking action on land cannot be an excuse for not taking action on fossil fuels. We need to do both. Delays will only make things worse….”

“Land-based options that deliver carbon sequestration in soils or vegetation do not continue to sequester carbon indefinitely,” she noted. “… In other words, land-based options can be tricky, and do not cancel out the need to also simultaneously reduce fossil fuel emissions. There is no magic get-out-of-jail free card for us.”

McElwee, a lead author of a recent U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Climate Change and Land report, has concerns about the recent wildfires around the world. “We have been seeing such dramatic fires in Brazil and Australia recently, which not only release CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the short-term, but which may have a long-term impact on forests’ ability to recover and retain their (carbon) sink functions.”

“While aggressive fire control measures in the past decades have been able to globally diminish total fire outbreaks, the climate suitability for fire will continue to increase, and with it, wildfire risks. As we are seeing play out in Australia right now, warmer and drier conditions facilitate fires that spread over larger areas and are harder to contain. There is potential for fire frequency to increase over substantial portions of the global land area in the next two decades.”

“Prompt action on climate mitigation and adaptation aligned with improved land management and sustainable development can reduce the risk to millions of people from climate extremes, desertification, land degradation, and food and livelihood insecurity,” McElwee wrote.

Professor McElwee is available to comment after the House committee hearing at [email protected] or 480-252-0999.

For a copy of the full written testimony, please contact Todd Bates at [email protected]


Broadcast interviews: Rutgers University has broadcast-quality TV and radio studios available for remote live or taped interviews with Rutgers experts. For more information, contact Neal Buccino at [email protected]

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