The rapid nature of climate change is likely to exceed the ability of many species to migrate or adjust. Experts predict that one-fourth of Earth’s species will be headed for extinction by 2050 if the warming trend continues at its current rate.
Many species are already feeling the heat:
- In 1999, the death of the last Golden Toad in Central America marked the first documented species extinction driven by climate change.
- Due to melting ice in the Arctic, polar bears may be gone from the planet in as little as 100 years.
- In the tropics, increased sea temperatures are causing more coral reefs to “bleach,” as the heat kills colorful algae that are necessary to coral health and survival.
- Several U.S. states may even lose their official birds as they head for cooler climates — including the Baltimore oriole of Maryland, black-capped chickadee of Massachusetts, and the American goldfinch of Iowa.