As news reports surface about polar bears starving and drowning, and images from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth are still seared into the into the minds of many, popular concerns about global warming are mounting. In the midst of these concerns, global warming serves as a point of intersection between the environmental movements and animal advocacy movements.
We speak with esteemed scientists Dr. David Lavigne and Dr. Chris D. Thomas to discuss the following questions: How is global warming affecting animals, and what might future effects be? Which animals are most vulnerable, and which habitats are most sensitive to climate change? What does the current ecological science tell us?
Dr. Lavigne, executive director of the International Marine Mammal Association (IMMA) and science advisor to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) will share findings from a joint study about changes in sea ice cover from 1969-2006, the potential impact of these changes on harp and hooded seals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and off the East coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the relationship between the research findings and global warming.
Then, turning to global analysis, Dr. Thomas, professor of biology at the University of York (UK), will discuss climate change and extinction risk, including a discussion of species and population responses to degraded and fragmented landscapes. As Thomas’ research group reports, “We estimated that 15-37% of species may be committed to eventual extinction as a result of climate warming that is likely to have taken place (mid-range estimates) by 2050. We have also found out that species with fragmented distributions tend to be in the process of declining, allowing us to deduce changes to the status of species even when we lack detailed historical records.”
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