There is little question that the earth is undergoing some climate change.
The big debate that seems to rage is whether this is man-made or whether it’s part of the natural cycle of Earth, which has undergone various cycles of warming and cooling over millions of years.
But what isn’t debated is that changes are affecting the plant and animal kingdoms around the world. Part of the cycle of life of the planet involves species of animals and plants that become endangered and/or extinct due to the changes that impact their habitats.
Regardless of whether this climate change that creates massive hurricanes like Irma and Harvey is man-made or natural, one thing’s for sure: the change has already impacted Earth in ways that we may not understand for several generations. But what we can say is that a number of animal species have already gone extinct over the last decade, a sampling of the unknown numbers that have disappeared without scientists identifying them (it is estimated that we only know of less than 20 percent of all the animal and plant species currently on the planet).
Besides those already gone – such as the Bramble Cay melomys, the Pinta giant tortoise, and the Western black rhinoceros – here are five animal species that have become severely endangered over the last couple of decades.
- The American pika
A native of the southwest U.S. for its dry warm climate, a squirrel-like creature has been seeing fading numbers for a while due to urban growth as well as changing climate. However, a recent petition to have the American pika placed on an endangered species list was denied by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Could that be the death knell?
- Musk ox
In the natural habitat of the musk ox, the winters in Alaska, Greenland, and Canada have been getting a little bit warmer over the years, which go against what the musk ox usually prefers – the bitter cold.
- Orange spotted filefish
This animal reflects the corals in the earth’s oceans. As the coral deteriorates and fades away, the filefish suffers as it relies on the coral to survive and thrive. However, warmer currents in the ocean have rendered this extinct around Japan, and it’s being challenged by the struggles of the Great Barrier Reef in Oceania (around Australia).
- Asian elephant
While poaching has been a big problem, the Asian elephant has found its way on an endangered watch list because of warming temperatures causing evaporation of fresh water sources throughout Asia. And elephants are just like humans – they need their water, and they don’t get the luxury of ordering bottled.
- Monarch butterfly
Probably the most royal of the species here (get it?), the Monarch butterfly is having a more concentrated population problem, confined mainly to North America, according to a prominent conservation group. Extreme weather in North America (large blizzards, and especially hurricanes) have dramatically impacted and have been wearing away the natural winter homes, which may force the Monarch to eventually move further south into Central America in order to survive.