The effects of climate change on the planet are already beginning to be felt: record temperatures, progressive desertification of the continents, unprecedented waves of fires, rising sea levels But, unfortunately, the worst is yet to come, since at the current rate the average temperature of the planet could rise by three degrees if we do not take urgent action. The big problem is that most of the consequences are unpredictable for humans, especially those affecting the biosphere: what would happen if bees, which are key to pollination, were to become extinct? How would the spread of certain species be prevented if a predator disappeared? Although it is not known for sure what will happen, one thing is clear: there are nearly a million species at risk of extinction due to climate change.
The koalas, a unique species in Australia, live in a very specific ecosystem of small dimensions: the forested areas of the eastern and southern regions of the continent, in the states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. In the early 20th century, the koala was hunted in large numbers by European settlers mainly for its skin, while its greatest threat today is the destruction of its habitat caused by agriculture and urbanization. To this we must add the deforestation caused by fires, a situation aggravated in recent years by the very high temperatures being recorded as a result of global warming. In the last wave of fires in Australia, it is estimated that at least 1,000 specimens died. It is believed that only between 100,000 and 200,000 koalas exist today.
2- Polar bear
Polar bears are one of the species most affected by climate change. The progressive melting of the poles is causing the rapid destruction of their natural habitat. WWF explains that the population is divided into 19 units or subpopulations. Of these, the latest data from the IUCN polar bear specialist group shows that three of them are in decline and that there is a very high risk of loss due to climate change. The polar bear population is estimated to be between 22,000 and 31,000 worldwide.
3- Emperor penguin
The emperor penguin is in a similar situation to the polar bear: its natural frozen habitat is changing at a dizzying rate and the melting of the poles is drastically reducing its population. In fact, in the last three years there have been practically no Emperor penguin pups born in what is their second largest breeding area in Antarctica, and this 2019 the situation looks the same, according to a new study published in the Antarctic Science magazine. It is estimated that some penguin species have lost 50% of their population since 1980.
One of the major concerns today is to preserve crops, at a time when desertification caused by climate change and deforestation threatens the ability to supply the entire planet. Hence the importance of bees and other pollinators. However, rising temperatures and low rainfall are hindering the feeding of bees and, therefore, they are already a species at risk of extinction due to climate change.
5- Panda Bear
The last census, taken in 2014, found that there were 1,864 giant pandas alive in the wild. Although still a very low number, this represents a real success story, with an increase of about 1,000 specimens from the late 1970s. However, its greatest threat is that much of the panda’s habitat has already been lost to deforestation. China banned logging in panda habitat in 1998, but new roads and railroads continue to further fragment the forests. This isolates panda populations and prevents them from reproducing, as WWF notes.