New Report: Arctic Sea Ice Among Top 10 Places Whose Species Are Threatened by Climate Change

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Rebecca Noblin, Center for Biological Diversity, (907) 274-1110
Leda Huta, Endangered Species Coalition, (202) 320-6467

New Report: Arctic Sea Ice Among Top 10 Places Whose Species Are Threatened by Climate Change

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - In a new report, the Endangered Species Coalition today named Arctic
sea ice one of the top 10 places to save for wildlife, fish and plants
on the brink of extinction. It’s Getting Hot Out There: Top 10 Places to Save for Endangered Species in a Warming World
highlights the importance of saving habitat, including key ecosystems,
for endangered species and examines how the changing climate is
increasing the risk of extinction for imperiled polar bears, walruses,
and other animals and plants.

“Climate change is no longer a distant threat on the
horizon,” said Leda Huta, executive
director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “It has
arrived and is threatening ecosystems that we all depend upon, and our
endangered species are particularly vulnerable. If we are serious
about saving endangered species from global warming, then these are the
places to start.”

“The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the
world, and Arctic sea ice is melting faster than any of the climate
models predicted,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director of the Center
for Biological Diversity. “Unless we drastically reduce our greenhouse
gas emissions, sea-ice-dependent animals like the polar bear will not
survive into the coming century.”

The report highlights 10 ecosystems that are hotspots
for threatened and endangered species, many of which are highly
vulnerable to climate change now. Coalition members nominated the
ecosystems for inclusion in the report, and the submissions were then
reviewed and judged by a panel of scientists. For each ecosystem, the
report identifies resident endangered species and necessary
conservation measures to help them survive.

“Endangered species don't have the luxury of waiting for
political leaders to act to slow
the pace of climate change,” said Huta. “We certainly need
to reduce global warming
pollution, but we also need to act now to protect some of
the most important ecosystems for imperiled wildlife for whom climate
change may mean extinction. Each ecosystem for the report was chosen
because we have an opportunity to increase its resiliency — or the
resiliency of the species that live there — to climate change if we
immediately implement conservation measures.”

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, 20 percent to 30 percent of the world’s species will be at an
increased risk of extinction if global temperature increases exceed 3
to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial
levels. The climate threats to species include increased disease,
diminished reproduction, lost habitat and reduced food supply.

Safeguarding Species in a Warming World
It’s Getting Hot Out There calls for the Obama
administration and Congress to provide the tools and resources
necessary to protect these key ecosystems from global climate change.
The Coalition would also like to see climate change factored into all
future endangered species-related decisions in order to help prevent
species from disappearing forever. 

This is the list of top 10 ecosystems to save for endangered species that are featured in the report:

1. The Arctic Sea Ice, home to the polar bear, Pacific walrus and at least six species of seal.

2. Shallow Water Coral Reefs, home to the critically endangered elkhorn and staghorn coral.

3. The Hawaiian Islands, home to more than a dozen imperiled birds and 319 threatened and endangered plants.

4. Southwest Deserts, home to numerous imperiled plants, fish and mammals.

5. The San Francisco Bay-Delta, home to the imperiled Pacific salmon, Swainson’s hawk, tiger salamander and Delta smelt.

6. California Sierra Mountains, home to 30 native species of amphibian, including the yellow-legged frog.

7. The Snake River Basin, home to four imperiled runs of salmon and steelhead.

8. Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, home to the imperiled
whitebark pine — an important food source for animals, including the
threatened grizzly bear.

9. The Gulf Coast’s flatlands and wetlands, home to
piping and snowy plovers, Mississippi sandhill cranes and numerous
species of sea turtles.

10. The Greater Everglades, home to 67 threatened and
endangered species, including the manatee and the red cockaded
woodpecker.

Seven additional ecosystems were nominated but not
selected for the Top 10. They nonetheless contain important habitat for
imperiled species and include: Glacier National Park, the Jemez
Mountains, Sagebrush steppe, the U.S. West Coast, the Maine Woods, the
Grasslands of the Great Plains and the southern Rocky Mountains.

The full report, which includes information on each
ecosystem, as well as recommended conservation measures, is available
online at www.itsgettinghotoutthere.org or www.StopExtinction.org.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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