TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A new study shows the federal government charged with protecting endangered species doesn’t have enough protection in place for those at greatest risk from climate change.
The research published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change found 99.8% of the 459 U.S. animal species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act are at risk of having their populations further diminished by a changing climate. The study’s lead author Aimee Delach, senior policy analyst for climate adaptation with Defenders of Wildlife, said she examined the agencies in charge of managing conservation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
“To see whether they are saying, yes, we should have some climate change actions to protect the species,” Delach said, “and we found that only 18% of species had those – had any of those kinds of actions planned.”
The agencies have not yet responded to the study. Delach said Florida already had a large number of endangered species that have been impacted by climate change, well before her research.
Defenders of Wildlife included a free interactive web application with data results from the study. Delach said anyone concerned can easily look up which species are in jeopardy and what’s being done to protect them.
“We evaluated 47 species from Florida. We found that climate change was discussed as a threat for 25 of them, not mentioned in 22 of them. But only 10 of those species were actions described,” she said.
Delach noted Florida is about average compared with other states. She said her team’s review looked through all available government documents relating to species up to the end of 2018. She added there have been updates with additional data and information for 2019 that could show improvements.