Wildlife Is On The Run

NWF   |   May 7, 2008

Dr. James Hansen, director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s leading climatologists, has written a persuasive article on the effects of climate change on wildlife in "2008-2009 State of the Wild, A Global Portrait of Wildlife, Wildlands, and Oceans" (Wildlife Conservation Society, published by Island Press)

Here’s how Dr. Hansen begins:

Animals are on the run. Plants are migrating too. I wrote those words in 2006 to draw attention to the fact that climate change was already underway. People do not notice climate change because it is masked by day-to-day weather fluctuations, and we reside in comfortable homes. Animals and plants, on the other hand, can survive only within certain climatic conditions, which are now changing. The National Arbor Day Foundation had to redraw its maps for the zones in which tree species can survive, and animals are shifting to new habitats as well. Are these gradual changes in the wild consistent with dramatic scientific assessments of a crystallizing planetary emergency? Unfortunately, yes. Present examples only hint at the scale of the planetary emergency that climate studies reveal with increasing clarity.

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Published: May 7, 2008