Climate Change to wipe out 10 percent of species, but others can be helped

Climate change may cause one in 10 species in existence to become extinct by 2100, according to a recent scientific study.

Considered the sixth greatest mass extinction in history, many animal and plant species’ habitats are becoming progressively imperiled by increased rainfall, which is raising acidity levels in the ocean, threatening the survival of polyps that comprise coral reefs and rising temperatures that are sending mountain animals to higher altitudes, according to the London Independent’s account of the study.

The report, conducted by Ilya Maclean and Robert Wilson of the University of Exeter, concluded that previous predictions of how fast species are becoming extinct due to climate change matched the actual number of species lost. Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists examined 200 previous estimates of how climate change may affect species extinction and compared these estimates with 130 documented changes that have notably affected species over the years.

"Our study is a wake-up call for action.The many species that are already declining could become extinct if things continue as they are. It is time to stop using the uncertainties as an excuse for not acting. Our research shows that the harmful effects of climate change are already happening and, if anything, exceed predictions," Dr. Maclean  told the Independent.

Although 10 percent of all species are heading toward the brink of extinction due to the continuation of human-induced and natural climate change, The Wilderness Society is focused on trying to secure more funding for projects and programs that aid species in adaptation to climate change.

We engage with various restoration programs, including the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and Legacy Roads, a Salmon, Water and Wetlands Program, to protect wilderness areas and ecologically rich landscapes from destruction due to climate change.

As part of our climate team, policy advisor JP Leous,  has worked with several coalitions to establish policies that would force government agencies to work together and use management tools and techniques to sustain and restore the resilience of these landscapes.

Restoration projects have been aimed toward wildlife that is vulnerable to climate change, including the Riparian and Wetlands Restoration in the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico, which aids in improving migration corridors and wetland habitats for various wildlife species and migratory birds, including the Yellow-billed cuckoo, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife’s Division of Bird Habitat Conservation.

As climate change is causing species to go extinct faster than historical rates have documented, we can all do our part to reduce carbon emissions that will lessen the impact on these fragile ecosystems. Although this may not lessen the impact that global warming has on the 10 percent of species that may be on the verge of extinction, it will help sustain the resilience of vulnerable species and the beautiful landscapes they exist in.