Climate change is already shaping the ecosystems that our precious flora and fauna depend upon. Milder winters in the Rocky Mountains and Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, for example, have led to sustained infestations of the mountain pine beetle, which has killed huge numbers of whitebark pine trees. Because grizzly bears rely on the whitebark pine seed as a staple food source, they now face food shortages as a result of the dead trees.
Across the nation, scores of species face similarly daunting challenges. Unless we find ways to build resilience to help species weather climate change, we will lose our wild places and wildlife altogether.
Scientists estimate that 21 to 52 percent of the species on Earth will go extinct if global warming approaches 3°C by the end of the century.
Earthjustice is building resilience to climate change by:
- Preserving habitat and connecting landscape corridors, which will allow species to move through a network of ecologically rich habitats that are uninterrupted by human development.
- Reducing environmental stressors, such as fossil fuel development, deforestation and irrigation, which disrupt habitats that are critically important to the long-term survival of species.
- Advocating for strong national forest protections that limit old-growth logging in the Pacific Northwest, preserving the Sierra Nevada’s vast acreage of wild forest, and protecting the gem of the national forest system: Alaska’s Tongass rainforest.
- Protecting endangered species by defending the ESA status of imperiled creatures including the gray wolf, polar bear, wolverine, caribou and bison. All face pressure from habitat loss, unsustainable hunting or other environmental stressors. And climate change is putting even greater pressure on these vulnerable species. We’re fighting to eliminate the stresses humans create, with the ultimate goal of securing stable populations that have the habitat they need.
- Holding governments accountable to curb the impacts of coastal and off-shore development, including underwater sonar tests and offshore drilling, which is harming fish, marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds and key underwater ecosystems.
- Saving west coast salmon from extinction by advocating dam removal in the Columbia/Snake River basin and pushing sound river management policies that ensure enough water exists in key West Coast rivers—the Sacramento, the Klamath and the Columbia/Snake—for salmon runs to spawn healthy populations year after year, work we’ve been engaged in since 1989.
- Defending the Endangered Species Act from legislative assaults in Congress that seek to weaken or dismantle this bedrock environmental law, which protects individual species as well as their habitat in the face of a warming world.