Polar bears, long recognized as the poster child for climate change, are not the only species feeling the impacts of climate change. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has released a list of animals facing a host of related threats, in some strange and unexpected ways. In a new report titled “Species Feeling the Heat: Connecting Deforestation and Climate Change,” WCS profiles more than a dozen animal species and groups impacted by changing land and sea temperatures, shifting rain patterns, exposure to new pathogens and disease, and increased threats of predation. The report comes out just as leaders from around the world gather in Copenhagen to address climate change issues. It also coincides with the 2010 launch of the International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations, an effort to raise awareness to reduce the constant loss of biological diversity worldwide. The Convention on Biodiversity, which emerged from the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, recently admitted that none of its 2010 biodiversity targets have been met, underscoring the dire situation that wildlife around the world face from climate change and other threats. The report also highlights the huge role of deforestation in climate change. The burning and cutting of forests causes nearly 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the output of all the world’s trucks, trains, cars, planes, and ships combined. As a result, protecting remaining swaths of forests can help put the brakes on climate change. “The image of a forlorn looking polar bear on a tiny ice floe has become the public’s image of climate change in nature, but the impact reaches species in nearly every habitat in the world’s wild places,” said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, WCS President and CEO. “In fact, our own researchers are observing direct impacts on a wide range of species across the world.” The report contains a cross-section of animal species around the globe, including:
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