Story at a glance

  • The WWF released a new report highlighting 12 species facing critical survival issues if climate change reaches past 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Some of the affected species include the Atlantic puffin, snow leopards, coral, bumblebees and leatherback turtles.
  • The WWF urges countries to reassess their climate change commitments prior to November’s COP26 climate summit.

A new report from the wildlife nonprofit WWF called Feeling The Heat: The fate of nature beyond 1.5°C of global warming” has highlighted the critical survival issues facing 12 key species if climate change surpasses 1.5 degrees Celsius and the effect those losses would have worldwide.

The affected species identified in the report include the Atlantic puffin, mountain hares, snow leopards, bluebells, bumblebees, coffee, coral, leatherback turtles, hippopotami, black-headed squirrel monkeys, emperor penguins and Darwin’s frog.


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The Atlantic puffin is facing a multitude of threats to its survival. With more than 90 percent of the Atlantic puffin population found in Europe, overfishing has both decimated its food sources and endangered these puffins as they become entangled in fishing nets when they dive to catch fish. Exacerbating its population issues are global warming’s effect on weather, with high winds and increased rain complicating its attempts to find food and colder temperatures during breeding season freezing eggs and destroying nests.

Also facing breeding problems is the leatherback turtle. The largest turtles, weighing in at half a ton and found in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans, the leatherback's sex is determined as it incubates in the nest by the temperature of the sand. Hotter sand, a product of climate change, tends to result in more female leatherback turtles, leaving less male mating options. Meanwhile, a rise in storms and their severity are destroying existing nests, as well as nesting beaches leatherback turtles often return to. 

One species that’s loss was highlighted as having an immediate effect on humans is coral. Rising temperatures and sea level rise have already caused many coral reefs to become bleached, losing their color and dying, with deoxygenation and acidification posing other threats. Even if the temperature rise is limited to 1.5 degrees C, the report found that coral reefs, which are home to more than 25 percent of marine life, could decline by 70 to 90 percent by 2050. This loss would in turn lead to the decimation of the fish that are housed there, destruction of food sources, fishermen losing their jobs and a decline in ecotourism.


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A chief executive at WWF, Tanya Steele, told The Guardian that the report highlights the critical need for governments to reassess their plans to address global warming and cutting carbon emissions prior to the United Nations COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

“World leaders must seize the chance at Cop26 to build a greener, fairer future – one with nature at its heart,” Steele said. “As hosts, the UK government needs to show it can deliver on its ambitious climate targets by publishing a credible action plan without delay, outlining the steps it will take to cut harmful emissions and reach net zero.”


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Published on Jun 02, 2021