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Climate Change Impacts

Wildlife at Risk

Rising temperatures are changing weather and vegetation patterns across the globe, forcing animal species to migrate to new, cooler areas in order to survive.

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.

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