SOURCE: The Guardian
DATE: November 19, 2019
SNIP: The climate crisis is poised to deliver a severe blow to America’s most threatened animals, with a new study finding that almost every species considered endangered is vulnerable in some way to global heating.
Of the 459 animal species listed as endangered by the US government, researchers found that all but one, or 99.8%, have characteristics that will make it difficult for them to adapt to rising temperatures.
An array of threats faces these species. The California condor, once close to being completely wiped out, faces increased risk of contamination in hotter conditions. Key deer, found only in the Florida Keys, face losing habitat to the rising seas.
Whole classes of animals including amphibians, mollusks and arthropods are sensitive to the greatest number of climate-related threats, such as changes in water quality, shifting seasons and harmful invasive species that move in as temperatures climb.
Mammals, such as the north Atlantic right whale and Florida panther, also face increased hardships, albeit on fewer fronts than amphibians, mollusks and arthropods.
Despite the overwhelming peril faced by America’s endangered species due to the climate crisis, the report, published in Nature Climate Change, found a patchy response from the US government. Federal agencies consider just 64% of endangered species to be threatened by the climate crisis, while just 18% of listed species have protection plans in place.
In May, a landmark UN report warned that 1 million species around the world were at risk of extinction, with global heating one of the main pressure points on biodiversity.