When we think of climate change, changing weather patterns and greenhouse gas emissions come to mind. Environmentalists are among the many advocates who have warned of the dangers of climate change and who have suggestions for addressing the problem. After all, an increase in temperature can not only affect our water supply, agriculture, health and safety, it also affects our wildlife.
A report by the National Wildlife Federation released earlier this month, Wildlife Legacy: Climate Change and the Next Generation of Wildlife, finds that climate change is impacting the natural habitats of species, and as a result, the next generation of wildlife.
“We really want to emphasize we’re grateful to our parents and the legacy that they’ve passed on to us in terms of getting us outside and giving us an appreciation for wildlife, and also…for all the work they’ve done in terms of conservation to preserve these species for future generations,” said one of the authors of the study, Sam Lockhart. “Now all that work is on the chopping block in a lot of pieces because so many of these species are at risk because of climate change.”
According to the report, species that are at risk due to climate change include: moose, polar bears, fish, sea turtles, hatchlings and others. This Spring alone, warmer temperatures have contributed to the deaths of over 60 percent of moose in New Hampshire, the report notes. It has also created an unsafe environment for polar bears, fish and sea turtles. A shortage of food, gender imbalance and overall survival are some of the issues these creatures face.
“Warmer water temperatures also put smallmouth bass at risk because fertilized eggs may not get enough dissolved oxygen,” wrote the National Wildlife Federation in a statement. “In Alaska last summer, a record-setting heat wave killed thousands of salmon and trout.”
The report also mentions that fishing is a popular commercial and recreational activity that produce over $25 billion a year in the United States.
“Wildlife plays an important role in a lot of economies around the country from hunting and outdoor recreation, as well as all the tourism that happens in order to build zoo wildlife, sea wildlife, [etcetera]” added Lockhart. “As we see impact to their species, we’re also seeing impact to those industries of consumers.”
The report identifies four key steps to help stop climate change:
- Reduce the use of carbon pollution from large sources such as coal-fired power plants.
- Foregoing the use of dirty fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and coal.
- Investing in cleaner energy sources (i.e. geothermal, wind, solar etc.)
- Make strides to conserve our wildlife and their habitats.
The report “is an uplifting story about how beautiful these animals are and how much has been done to conserve these species, but we’re also facing a major challenge,” said Lockhart. “The really big takeaway is we need to be looking to change that direction and change that course. We need to be the voices for wildlife and ensure that we are protecting these iconic species for future generations to be able to enjoy.”