Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

The North Atlantic right whale was among the 458 endangered species which the U.S. federal government is currently failing to protect from the effects of the climate crisis. (Photo: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute/Flickr/cc)

Driven by Anti-Science Agenda, Trump Agencies Defying Mandate to Save Endangered Species From Climate Risk

"The window to act is narrowing."

Julia Conley

A new study exposes serious gaps in the U.S. government's commitment to fighting the effects of the climate crisis on endangered species, which federal agencies are required by law to protect.

"While climate change is a pressing threat to imperiled species, agencies that manage federally protected species have not given enough attention to this threat," said Aimee Delach, study co-author and a researcher at Defenders of Wildlife.

Researchers at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Defenders of Wildlife examined the sensitivities of the country's 459 endangered species to a number of global changes brought about by the climate crisis, and found all but one of them—the Hawaiian goose—have traits that make it challenging for them to adapt to those effects.

"The biggest roadblock is likely the repeated denial of the latest science by the current administration, members of Congress, and those who stand to gain from the continued use of damaging fossil fuels. Since 2016, agencies have given scant attention to the climate crisis more broadly."
—Astrid Caldas, Union of Concerned Scientists

While the authors of the study, which was published in Nature Climate Change on Monday, found that 99.8 percent of the country's endangered species are threatened by the climate crisis, government agencies consider the rapidly changing climate to be a risk for only 64 percent of them. Just 18 percent of the species are currently protected under specific plans, but the federal government is bound to protect all of them under the Endangered Species Act.

"The current administration produced only one species' document in 2017-18 that included management actions to address climate impacts," said Delach.

Dr. Gretchen Goldman, a research director at UCS, tweeted that the report identified "a big gap in our endangered species protections."

Astrid Caldas, a climate scientist at UCS who co-authored the report, suggested that the Trump administration has in less than three years greatly reduced the government's efforts to protect endangered species from melting ice, habitat destruction, and other climate changes.

"While underfunding and the lack of tools to plan and implement needed actions could be partially to blame for the lack of action, the biggest roadblock is likely the repeated denial of the latest science by the current administration, members of Congress, and those who stand to gain from the continued use of damaging fossil fuels," Caldas said in a statement. "Since 2016, agencies have given scant attention to the climate crisis more broadly."

The report comes days after documents revealed that President Donald Trump's Interior Secretary, David Bernhardt, is gutting endangered species protections to help the same companies Bernhardt was a lobbyist for before entering government.

Nearly three-quarters of the species were shown to be sensitive to three or more factors of the changing climate, increasing the danger of extinction. 

A number of amphibians, mollusks, and arthropods were the most sensitive to climate changes, including the Sonoran tiger salamander and the Florida leafwing butterfly.

"We still have time to safeguard many of the endangered species we treasure, but the window to act is narrowing," Caldas said.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.


Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·

Looming US Supreme Court Climate Decision Could 'Doom' Hope for Livable Future

"The immediate issue is the limits of the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases," said one scientist. "The broader issue is the ability of federal agencies to regulate anything at all."

Jessica Corbett ·

Abortion Rights Groups Sue to Block Post-Roe Trigger Laws in Louisiana

"We will be fighting to restore access in Louisiana and other states for as long as we can," said one reproductive rights campaigner.

Jake Johnson ·

Progressives Launch 'Four More' Campaign to Demand Supreme Court Expansion

"In a true democracy, power rests with the people," one campaigner asserted. "And the only way to take our power back is to take back the court."

Brett Wilkins ·

Poll Shows Majority Oppose Supreme Court's Attack on Fundamental Rights

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they're now concerned the court will attack marriage equality and the right to obtain contraception.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo