Climate change is not supposed to be something that happens quickly, but right now it is happening fast enough to endanger some species that simply don’t have the ability to cope with the rapid increase in global temperature that we are currently seeing. Here are 5 species that may not make it the next 50 years and the huge implications that it could have on our everyday lives.
The viviparous lizard (or common lizard as it is known) ranges from Western Spain to Eastern Russia, so it would seem with a habitat this vast that climate change couldn’t affect it. Unfortunately, these are cold weather lizards and the increased temperature in the region has limited their breeding. Because the lizards are an integral part of the food chain, the lack of breeding has significantly lowered populations across Eurasia. As the temperatures continue to rise, the only breeding populations that will be able to sustain their numbers are those in the upper elevations of the Alps, and even these will eventually run out of habitable area.
The polar bear is the most visible animal on our list. Although it is only on the threatened list as of right now, the speed at which the oceanic ice around the northern icecaps is melting, it may not be long until the polar bears have no feeding grounds. The ice platforms that they feed from are not lasting as long as they once which doesn’t allow the bears to build up enough fat to survive through the summer months. In addition, the lack of sea ice means the polar bears much swim farther to get from one float to another, increasing the chances of drowning.
Magellanic penguins are native to the areas around the southern tip of South America including the Straits of Magellan. Climate change is displacing the penguin’s major food sources by up to 25 miles as the undersea currents change in the warming waters. This forces the male penguins to swim 50+ miles more than they used to to gather food for their mates and young. The colony just south of Buenos aries has declined 20% in the past 22 years and, as the waters warm and fish move further out, the trend is only looking worse.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, as of June 2011, has put the Whitebark pine tree on the endangered species list. This tree is akin to the top canopy of the Amazon rain forest. Without it, all of the wildlife and plant species that live below its canopy become equally endangered. Whitebark pines shade the snowpack in the Rocky mountains to prevent premature thawing in the spring which prevents early spring flooding and allows for fresh water in the summer months. The warmer temperatures in the whitebark habitat have allowed the spread of deadly mountain pine beetles because the lack of cold snaps is failing to kill off as many as it used to.
Imagine the costs of a cup of coffee reaching $20 or more. That might happen in the near future if scientists are right. A study released by U.K. and Ethiopian researchers has come to the conclusion that 70% of the world’s coffee could be wiped out by 2080 if climate change continues at its current pace, this is an average of their best case scenario in which 40% of the plants die and the worst case scenario where the plant goes extinct. Of course, this is just wild coffee, cultivars and farms could still be maintained – but at a premium cost.
Are you surprised at some of the species on the list? Is there one you think should be there? Tell us.