Several U.S. species are at risk of extinction due to climate-fueled superstorms, details a new report released by the Center for Biological Diversity.
“The climate crisis is making hurricanes deadlier for people and wildlife alike,” write the authors. Species that are particularly vulnerable are coastal endangered species, many of who live in the coastal areas of Florida and Puerto Rico, which are annually at risk for being hit the heaviest by hurricanes.
According to the report:
“People and wildlife are both threatened because climate change is making hurricanes stronger, boosting rainfall during storms, and increasing the height of storm surges — the huge walls of water that crash into coastlines during storms.”
The 10 U.S. Endangered Species threatened are:
- Puerto Rican parrot (fewer than 100 left in the wild)
- Attwaters prairie chicken (fewer than 100 left in the wild)
- Black-capped Petrel (500 to 1,000 breeding pairs left)
- Florida key deer (About 800 left)
- Perdido Key beach mouse (About 400 to 800 left)
- Florida manatee (About 8,810 left)
- Frosted Flatwoods Salamander (has experienced a 90% loss since 2000)
- Green sea turtle (About 8,500 left in Florida)
- Elkhorn coral (Left at 3 percent of its former abundance)
- Schaus swallowtail butterfly (About 40 to 300 adults left)
“The climate crisis is feeding monster hurricanes that bring suffering and death to some of our nation’s most vulnerable wildlife,” said Shaye Wolf, report author, and science director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With each superstorm, coastal species already near extinction are blown away by brutal winds, drowned by floodwaters or left with decimated habitats. It’ll only get worse until we get serious about curbing climate pollution.”
Scientists analyzed data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and scientific literature to determine the effect climate change was having on hurricanes and how that would affect nearby wildlife.
Increased intensity, storm surge, and rainfall make storms more destructive to wildlife and habitats, even in areas where wildlife have adaptations to help them weather big storms. “Intense hurricanes cause massive storm surge, flooding, severe winds and scattered debris that can kill or injure
animals and plants and damage habitats,” according to the report. To make matters worse, coastal ecosystems have had their natural flows interrupted by development, pollution, and infrastructure.
The report calls for urgent action to combat the climate emergency in order to save these and many other species, including a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel production and a transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy.
“The Trump administration is dismantling critical climate policies with one hand and tearing down the Endangered Species Act with the other,” Wolf said. “To preserve a future where magnificent green sea turtles still nest on our shores, and to avoid catastrophic ecosystem collapse, we need to act now.”