Polar bears are often seen as the poster child for climate change — and for good reason. The charismatic Arctic dwellers depend on dwindling sea ice to survive, and their plight has caught the world’s attention.
Sadly they’re far from the only species at risk from a warming planet.
“There is growing evidence that climate change will become one of the major drivers of species extinctions in the 21st century,” reported the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which manages the global Red List of threatened species.
Scientists have found that half of all mammals and a quarter of birds listed as threatened have already been harmed by climate change.
For at least one, the changes have been too much.
In 2019 the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent that lived only on an island in the Great Barrier Reef that was swamped by rising seas, earned the unfortunate distinction of being the first mammal declared extinct due to climate change.
It won’t be the last.
Climate change is shrinking the range of species like the American pika, which may soon run out of suitable habitat. For green sea turtles, hotter sand in which eggs incubate has already started to skew the sex of hatchlings. Females outnumber males by 99% in some places.
Other species are finding less food, more competition for limited resources, or inhospitable conditions to which they can’t adapt fast enough.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, many more species will join the Bramble Cay melomys.
Watch the video below to learn about 10 species we could lose.