Warmed to Extinction

The Atlantic salmon is one of many species at risk for extinction as a result of global warming.

A new study shows that global warming is an extinction threat for 60% of threatened species. But there’s been little in the way of a recovery plan from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Center for Biological Diversity reports that scientists have reviewed federal endangered species recovery plans and have increasingly found that global warming is a prime extinction threat. But the study, published in Conservation Biology, also noted that there is no recovery plan in place.

"Global warming is the greatest overarching threat to endangered species, but until very recently, it was rarely addressed in federal recovery plans," says Dr. Tony Povilitis, president of Life Net Nature and co-author of the study. "Scientists are rapidly closing the gap, but are sorely lacking in guidance from the federal government."

Fewer than 5% of recovery plans written before 2005 mention global warming—from 2005 to 2008, 60% of recovery plans include it. They include recovery plans for such species as Atlantic salmon, Hawaiian monk seals, the checkerspot butterfly and the desert tortoise. But although scientists see the need to address climate change in order to save species, without a federal action plan, there’s little to give such plans weight. In terms of salmon, the plan notes, "Any prolonged or significant warming of Maine’s climate would probably make the survival of Atlantic salmon in Maine more difficult."

The Center for Biological Diversity and others have concluded that addressing climate change on the federal level—and greatly reducing the level of greenhouse gas emissions—must be implemented quickly to avoid the greatest risk of species" extinction across the country.

SOURCE: Center for Biological Diversity