Species extinction rates are accelerating at an unprecedented pace, ten to hundreds of times higher than they have been in the past ten million years – and up to one million species may go extinct by the end of the century. Human-driven climate change is a key driver of biodiversity collapse and species extinction.
Recent studies show the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, and the top four in the past four years. Over the past century, the average temperature of the Earth has risen by 1.8°F. Over the next one hundred years, scientists are projecting another 0.5 to 8.6°F rise in the temperature. The cause of this temperature change is human activities that have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (such as methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases) into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy. Results of this global warming include rising ocean temperatures, a more acidic ocean, melting ice caps, and rising sea levels.
In just four decades, Earth has lost half its wildlife. The IUCN predicted that 20-30% of plant and animal species are likely to be at an increased risk of extinction due to climate change. In the past few years, we have witnessed senseless environmental rollbacks, including the nihilistic gutting of the United States Endangered Species Act beyond recognition, as well as opening up the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans for seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling.
Climate change will also impact humans, and especially the world’s 2.6 billion poorest people. According to the United Nations Development Program, “Receding forests, changing rainfall patterns and rising sea levels will exacerbate existing economic, political and humanitarian stresses and affect human development in all parts of the world.”
The negative consequences of human-driven climate change will continue to accelerate with disastrous effects: sea continue to rise, inundating and eliminating nesting beaches and foraging habitat for marine wildlife; warming seas are driving ocean animals further north, leading to cold stunning and further reducing sea turtle hatchling success; and the effects of increasing ocean acidification will become more deadly to all marine life.
Turtle Island Restoration Network is committed to acting against the devastating impacts of climate change on sea turtles and other vulnerable marine species. Our specific climate change resiliency strategy is always changing, according to best available science, and is currently two-fold: we build resiliency to allow marine wildlife to withstand and recover from climate change impacts that are already occurring, and we fight back against the senseless policy and anti-environmental legislation that will hasten the effects of climate change on marine species and the entire planet.
Everyone can take simple actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate our personal contribution to climate change, and build greater community resiliency to tackle its effects. However, it’s important to stand with TIRN and other conservation organizations to hold those most responsible for anthropogenic climate change truly accountable – governments, fossil fuel industries and lobbies, plastic manufacturers and other major corporations that benefit from the environmental injustices accepted and perpetrated under the guise of economic progress.