By Jennifer Ailor, Climate Committee Chair

Climate change is the existential threat of our times. Where is it, you may ask. Melting glaciers, devastating hurricanes and tornadoes, raging forest fires, drought, 130-degree temperatures in Pakistan and India, massive flooding, warming ocean waters and expanding dead zones, these events are far away from the Ozarks and our beloved Buffalo River.      

    Watch out. Stream water is warming In the Ozarks, and we’re experiencing hotter summers, milder winters and shifting shoulder seasons. Invasives are moving in. Amphibians and fish counts are changing. Forests may begin drying out. Bird migration patterns and numbers are responding to hotter temperatures and habitat loss. We’re seeing wetter springs and drier summers. The Ozark Society states will not be spared further climate change impacts. The worst is yet to come.

It seemed fitting in this 50th anniversary year of the Buffalo becoming the country’s first national river that the Ozark Society take a stand on climate change. In February, Alice Andrews, Brian Thompson, David Peterson, myself and Dr. Stephen Boss of the University of Arkansas put together a positioning statement and collected links to studies on climate change now posted at 

       Laura Timby and Dina Nash have joined us. We’ve added action steps we each can take in our personal lives, and on our Facebook page, Brian is adding energy-efficiency tips that can help us use electricity more wisely. Pollution from coal- and gas-fired power plants contribute to the carbon dioxide and other emissions warming our Earth.

What’s next? For now, here are three suggestions:

  • The OS board to have a meeting dedicated to discussing climate change mitigation steps with environmental organizations we partner with. Also up for discussion, how we might interface with local and state government officers and agencies.
  • Each chapter to discuss what it can do locally to educate, partner with and influence change, then share that information with the board.
  • Personally, share with us what you’re observing in your local environment and also what you’re doing to reduce your footprint. For now, email your observations and actions to me at

     We are small players in the movement to save the Earth and all that lives on it from a grim future. Yes, governments must make the big plays. But each of us can contribute, and small actions can add up to big change.