Climate change is happening now
Climate change has already been implicated in hundreds of documented cases of species declines across marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems globally, including in the loss of amphibian species such as the Golden Toad.
Larger animals are also at risk. Droughts and downpours, exacerbated by climate change, are thought to have made it easier for diseases to wipe out large numbers of African lions while water scarcity due to climate change is threatening to dry out the important jungle wallows of Indonesian rhinos.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, approximately 20 to 30 per cent of plant and animal species are likely to be at increasingly high risk of extinction as global mean temperatures exceed warming of 2 to 3 oC above pre-industrial levels.
Conservation alone is not enough
Destruction of habitat through logging, mining and unsustainable agricultural practice are well known threats to species. And, around the world, WWF along with other organisations is working hard to preserve the habitats of some of those species most at risk. However, conservation alone efforts will not be enough if those habitats are damaged or changed forever as a result of climate change.
This is one reason why WWF is also taking action to help reduce climate-changing emissions.
The human species is at risk too
The other compelling reason for action is the humanitarian catastrophe that climate change is unleashing.
According to the Global Humanitarian Forum, established by the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan's, climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300 million people.
The Forum projects that increasingly severe heatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030, making it the greatest humanitarian challenge the world faces.
There is still time to act
Despite the bleak outlook, a window of opportunity still exists for the world to prevent the worst ravages of climate chaos. Within the next decade global climate emissions must peak and then begin to rapidly fall. This will require the industrialised, and the most polluting, countries of the world to show leadership.
Thankfully, the tough emissions reduction targets contained within the recently passed Scottish Climate Change Act – currently the world’s strongest piece of climate change legislation – shows us there is hope. Now all we need is for other countries to follow Scotland’s example.
Doing your bit does help
Through its campaigns WWF is pressing governments around the world for international action to secure a strong and fair global climate deal.
However, we do not have time to wait for every government to fall in to line. That is why personal action is so important too. By taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint by choosing to take bus or saving energy you helping to stop climate chaos. You are also sending a signal to politicians that you care about climate change. So, thank you.
If you’d like to help WWF press governments for a strong global climate deal and to make it easier for people to live climate-friendly lives please consider becoming a supporter or joining in our campaigns.