Wildlife in a Warming World: Confronting the Climate Crisis

From the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Wildlife in a Warming World examines case studies from across the country illustrating how climate change is altering wildlife habitats and contributing to population declines. Recommendations are made to protect both wildlife and communities in various ecosystems from the impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather, sea level rise and wildfires.

This report describes the climate challenges faced by wildlife in eight regions across the U.S. including the Arctic, Western forests, Southwest, Great Plains, Mississippi River Basin, Great Lakes, Appalachian Mountains, and the Atlantic Coast. 

According to NWF, there is evidence already that climate change is causing declines in species populations and localized extinctions. For example, local extinctions of desert bighorn sheep populations in California have been strongly correlated with climate conditions. From extreme pest outbreaks and catastrophic wildfires in Western pine forests to rapid loss of the sea ice that polar bears, walrus, and seals need to reach their food sources, wildlife is contending with unprecedented challenges. Fish are dying by the thousands during intense and lengthy droughts and heat waves. Many plant and wildlife species are shifting their entire ranges to colder locales, in many cases two- to three-times faster than scientists anticipated. Although species have adapted to natural climate variation since the beginning of time, the changes are happening much faster than they are able to respond.

NWF recommends a four-pronged approach to confront the climate crisis’ threats to wildlife and communities:

(1) Address the underlying cause and cut carbon pollution 50 percent by 2030.

(2)Transition to cleaner, more secure sources of energy like offshore wind, solar power and next-generation biofuels while avoiding dirty energy choices like coal and tar sands oil.

(3) Safeguard wildlife and their habitats by promoting climate-smart approaches to conservation.

(4) Help communities prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change such as rising sea levels, more extreme weather, and more severe droughts. 




Publication Date: January 30, 2013

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Amanda Staudt
  • Corey Shott
  • Douglass B. Inkley
  • Isabel Ricker

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Resource Types:

  • Assessment


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