START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Climate Change Refugees: Plants, Animals and Insects Will Need to Keep Moving

Climate Change Refugees: Plants, Animals and Insects Will Need to Keep Moving

A newly released study tries to quantify the rate at which  global warming is moving across the world, and shows that the average ecosystem will need to shift a quarter of a mile each year in order to stay in its ideal temperature range. Scientists at a group of institutions in California note that creatures in flatter areas, including coasts and deserts, will have to move even farther, up to a kilometer a year, in order to stay ahead.

Of course, plants and animals have been adapting to changes in their environment for thousands of years, through both evolution and migration.  However the newly released models show that many species in as many as one-third of the habitats studied will be unable to keep up with the projected rates of change. An even more serious issue, and one that cannot be ascribed to natural forces, is the fragmentation of so many natural habitats by human activity. Many animals and plants seeking cooler areas will be blocked by fences, roads, farms, and other barriers.  The study’s authors note that the provision and expansion of wildlife corridors and reserves  and other assistance to plants and animals may be required to preserve as much of the planet’s biodiversity as possible. 

In addition to the required speed of migration and the fragmentation of habitat, an article five years ago in the New Scientist notes that some animals’ gene pools may be adversely affected by climate change, which will further harm their ability to adapt. 

In this video, Stanford Professor Chris Field explains how global warming is expected to profoundly affect the small Jasper Ridge reserve in less than a decade, possibly in as  little as five years:

The fight against climate change must include emissions reduction, global warming  mitigation and adaptation. Reduction and mitigation are up to us humans, but adaptation will be necessary for all living things.

As we move on from the Copenhagen talks, citizens and governments will need to embrace preparation and planning for the effects of global warming and accept responsibility to help many creatures–human, plant and animal–adapt to the accelerating changes. In an interview with the San Francisoc Chronicle, the study co-author and biologist Healy Hamilton concludes, “Climate change is going to happen faster than we expected, and our conservation strategies are going to have to adapt.”

Read more: , , ,

Photo: A Western Tanager.  Songbirds are particularly affected by global warming.
Photo by Don DeBold via Flickr. CC license.

quick poll

vote now!

Loading poll...

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
6:24PM PDT on May 20, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:23PM PDT on May 20, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:23PM PDT on May 20, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:22PM PDT on May 20, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:21PM PDT on May 20, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

9:53AM PST on Nov 25, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

2:05PM PDT on May 28, 2011


7:07PM PDT on May 10, 2010

Planting only 6 percent of the continental United States with biomass crops such as hemp would supply all current domestic demands for oil and gas.
Did you know the average American spends 33 of 40 working hours to support their need for energy? It's true; 80 percent of the total monetary living expense for everything we do is ultimately wrapped up in energy costs; from the energy it takes to make the food we eat, to fuel for the cars we drive, to the manufacturing, storage and transportation of the products we buy. And 80 percent of solid and airborne pollution in our environment can be blamed on fossil energy sources. It is estimated that America has already exhausted 80 percent of its fossil fuel reserves.
Industrial hemp is the number one biomass producer on earth, meaning an actual contender for an economically competitive, clean burning fuel. Hemp has four times the biomass and cellulose potential and eight times the methanol potential of its closest competing crop - corn. Burning coal and oil are the greatest sources of acid rain; biomass fuels burn clean and contain no sulphur and produce no ash during combustion. The cycle of growing and burning biomass crops keeps the world s carbon dioxide level at perfect equilibrium, which means that we are less likely to experience the global climactic changes (greenhouse effect) brought about by excess carbon dioxide and water vapors after burning fossil fuels.


8:04AM PST on Feb 2, 2010

Barbara, please visit this website as an intoduction to the topic.

4:32AM PST on Jan 30, 2010

Nice share... wonderful video. Thanks for the post.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

This just does not seem feasible. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is!

so, just wondering what is the killing rate for canada?

meet our writers

Kathleen J. Kathleen is currently the Activism Coordinator at Care2. more
ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!