Florida Home to Four of Top 10 Species Imperiled by Climate Change

Florida Home to Four of Top 10 Species Imperiled by Climate Change

'Last Chance' Report Highlights Urgent Need to Address Biodiversity Loss, Global Warming 

Miami, FL — Last month world leaders met in Glasgow for a global climate conference, and to announce their public commitments to reversing climate change. But for some species, it may already be too late, according to a report released today by the Endangered Species Coalition and partners. Last Chance: 10 U.S. Species Already Imperiled by Climate Change highlights the plight of 10 dwindling animal and plant species that are being impacted — directly or indirectly — by global climate change.

The report includes four species found in Florida: the Florida Key deer, the Diamondback terrapin, the Elkhorn coral, and the Monarch butterfly. Sierra Club nominated the Florida Key deer for the report because it is one of Florida's most iconic species vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The Key deer is an endangered subspecies, and the smallest of white-tailed deer and only found in lower Florida Keys. 

This past summer, the United Nations scientific agencies on climate change and biodiversity released a report highlighting the interconnection between the two, warning that biodiversity loss will exacerbate climate change, and vice versa, and calling upon world leaders to address both issues urgently and concurrently. Several months later, on Oct. 13, the U.N. Biodiversity Conference adopted the Kunming Declaration, which acknowledges that biodiversity loss and climate change are unprecedented crises that "pose an existential threat to our society, our culture, our prosperity and our planet."

"The species in this report are only a few of the growing number of species imperiled by sea level rise and other impacts from human-caused climate change," said Diana Umpierre, organizing representative for Sierra Club's Everglades restoration campaign. "They are calling on us all to give them a fighting chance, because this might very well be their last chance for survival."

Unfortunately, despite President Biden's pledge to address climate change and its impact, last week the Administration announced that it is considering weakening protections for some species, including the Key deer. Sierra Club, along with close partners in the Florida Keys, will challenge, once again, any new attempts to reduce protections for this tiny deer. To draw attention to the plight of this iconic species and the fight of the local community to save it, Sierra Club is bringing Dr. Douglas Mader, a well-respected veterinarian in the Florida Keys, who has provided emergency care for the Key deer over the years, to give a keynote address at the upcoming Everglades Coalition conference being held in Duck Key Jan. 6-8, 2022.

According to Bonnie Rice, a senior campaign representative for Sierra Club's Our Wild America Campaign, "the work to fight climate change must include addressing the interconnected and equally devastating extinction crisis", and the Biden administration should "start by committing to a national strategy to address the extinction crisis."

The report also "affirms what we’ve known for years: fighting climate change and saving species are one in the same battle, and that we need to protect 30% of lands and waters by 2030 to avoid the worst of the climate and extinction crises," said Dan Ritzman, Sierra Club's director of lands, water, and wildlife.

"Scientists have long known about the impact of greenhouse gases and carbon pollution on the planet," said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. "Plants and wildlife are going extinct at an unprecedented rate, and it's way past time for our elected leaders to take bold action to protect our planet and all its inhabitants."

10 Species Already Imperiled by Climate Change:
Florida Key deer
Ka palupalu o Kanaloa
Maui parrotbill
Mexican long-nosed bat
Western ridged mussel
Whitebark pine
Diamondback terrapin
Elkhorn coral
Monarch butterfly
Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog

Endangered Species Coalition member groups nominated species for the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations and chose the finalists. The full report, along with photos can be viewed and downloaded at https://www.endangered.org/last-chance. The Endangered Species Coalition produces a Top 10 report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Previous years' reports are also available on the Coalition's website.