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Fed Agency Plans Are Not Adequate to Prevent 99.8% of U.S. Endangered Species From Suffering Climate Crisis, Study Says
While the planet continues to heat up, almost every single one of the 459 species listed as endangered in the U.S. will struggle as the climate crisis intensifies, according to new research published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The researchers found that every animal on the list except for the Hawaiian Goose had one or more sensitivity that would leave them ill equipped to handle a warming planet, meaning 99.8 percent is vulnerable to extinction caused by global warming. However, federal agencies that are mandated to protect endangered animals have a subpar response. The federal agencies consider that only 64 percent of the endangered animals will be affected by the climate crisis. To make matters worse, the federal agencies have only planned interventions for 18 percent of species, according to the study.
"This study confirms that the climate crisis could make it even harder for nearly all of our country's endangered species to avoid extinction," said Astrid Caldas, a study co-author and a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, as The Guardian reported.
"While agencies have increasingly listed climate change as a growing threat to species whose survival is already precarious, many have not translated this concern into tangible actions, meaning a significant protection gap still exists," she added.
The animals on the Endangered Species List face numerous threats. The Key deer, found only in the Florida Keys, for example, faces a threat of habitat loss due to rising seas. The Florida Panther and the north Atlantic right whale also face threats from declining food stocks. However, nothing faces more threats than amphibians, mollusks and arthropods, which are sensitive to manifold threats from the climate crisis, including changes in water quality and harmful invasive species that move in as temperatures climb, according to the study, as The Guardian reported.
While 99.8 percent were found to have at least one of eight sensitivities to a changing climate, the analysis found that 74 percent of the animals on the list face threats from three or more factors.
Defenders of Wildlife, a non-profit conservation organization, led the study. The group faulted federal agencies for not doing their due diligence in administering the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
"Our study demonstrates that while climate change is a pressing threat to imperiled species, agencies that manage federally protected species have not given enough attention to this threat," said Aimee Delach, Senior Policy Analyst for Climate Adaptation and lead author on the study, in a Defenders of Wildlife study. "Even worse, we found the agencies are moving in the wrong direction, with actions in recovery documents addressing climate change threats declining since 2014. The current administration produced only one species' document in 2017-18 that included management actions to address climate impacts. These numbers don't even account for the disastrous new ESA regulations, which will hinder future efforts by agencies to protect species from these effects."
The report comes after recent maneuver's by Trump's Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, to weaken endangered species protections to help the same companies Bernhardt was a lobbyist for before entering government, as Common Dreams reported.
It also comes in the wake of a UN released a report in May that natural biodiversity is declining at unprecedented rates due to global warming and nearly 1 million species around the world were at risk of extinction, as The Hill reported.
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Nestlé cannot claim that its Ice Mountain bottled water brand is an essential public service, according to Michigan's second highest court, which delivered a legal blow to the food and beverage giant in a unanimous decision.
A number of supermarkets across the country have voluntarily issued a recall on sushi, salads and spring rolls distributed by Fuji Food Products due to a possible listeria contamination, as CBS News reported.
If you read a lot of news about the climate crisis, you probably have encountered lots of numbers: We can save hundreds of millions of people from poverty by 2050 by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but policies currently in place put us on track for a more than three degree increase; sea levels could rise three feet by 2100 if emissions aren't reduced.
Poverty and violence in Central America are major factors driving migration to the United States. But there's another force that's often overlooked: climate change.
Retired Lt. Cmdr. Oliver Leighton Barrett is with the Center for Climate and Security. He says that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crime and poor economic conditions have long led to instability.
"And when you combine that with protracted drought," he says, "it's just a stressor that makes everything worse."
Barrett says that with crops failing, many people have fled their homes.
"These folks are leaving not because they're opportunists," he says, "but because they are in survival mode. You have people that are legitimate refugees."
So Barrett supports allocating foreign aid to programs that help people in drought-ridden areas adapt to climate change.
"There are nonprofits that are operating in those countries that have great ideas in terms of teaching farmers to use the land better, to harvest water better, to use different variety of crops that are more resilient to drought conditions," he says. "Those are the kinds of programs I think are needed."
So he says the best way to reduce the number of climate change migrants is to help people thrive in their home countries.
Reporting credit: Deborah Jian Lee / ChavoBart Digital Media.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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